PICK OF THE WEEK
Liberty! The American Revolution
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, Nov. 23-25, 9-11 p.m. (PBS)
TV highlights for the week of Nov. 22-28. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available (see box below).
SATURDAY - 11/22
Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.-1 a.m.): New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani hosts the offbeat comedy-sketch show with musical guest Sarah McLachlan. (TV-14)
SUNDAY - 11/23
Wonderful World of Disney: The Santa Clause (ABC, 7-9 p.m.): This lightweight holiday comedy stars Tim Allen as a divorced workaholic dad with an eight-year-old son (Eric Lloyd). On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus injures himself so Scott Calvin (Allen) decides to play Santa. But Calvin and his son discover that whoever puts on the Santa suit must also take on the responsibilities of Jolly St. Nick. (TV-G)
Liberty! The American Revolution (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): This panoramic portrait of the birth of America, in three two-hour episodes, captures the pivotal events between 1763 and 1789. The Stamp Act started the high drama, with historian Carol Berkin calling the British Parliament's decision to tax Americans "probably one of the dumbest political acts" in history. It leads into a series of events: encounters at Bunker Hill, Saratoga, and Trenton; the Boston Tea Party; and the Declaration of Independence. The engaging presentation, featuring interviews with eminent historians, is faithful to the times and comes complete with Shakespearean accent and powdered wigs. Tony Award-winners Donna Murphy, Philip Bosco, and Roger Rees portray Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, respectively; the soundtrack by James Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, and Yo-Yo Ma has exciting Revolutionary melodies. (TV-G)
What the Deaf Man Heard (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): People told him secrets because they thought he couldn't hear, but Sammy (Matthew Modine) only pretended not to hear. After his mom (Bernadette Peters) disappears during a bus trip in 1945, two bus-depot employees (Tom Skerritt, Judith Ivey) take in the orphan. The boy grows up without speaking a word, but his silence may just save the community when he learns that the son of a rich family plans to steal funds from a local church. James Earl Jones is among the talented cast. (TV-G)
Paul McCartney's Standing Stone (A&E, 10 p.m.-midnight): When Paul McCartney's record company, EMI, asked him to write a piece for its centennial anniversary, he wrote a symphonic poem and named it "Standing Stone" because it symbolized long lasting. This two-hour special takes an in-depth look at McCartney's major undertaking and how he used a computer to write this 75-minute musical piece (he can't read sheet music). The program also broadcasts the Oct. 14 performance of his Celtic-inspired work at London's Royal Albert Hall. (TV-G)
Understanding - Space Travel (TLC, 10-11 p.m.): Did you know that astronauts don't float in space? It's more like bungee jumping. This documentary, which explains space travel in 101 terms, says it's OK if you're not a rocket scientist. Also - thank heavens for gravity - astronauts return to tell their story. (TV-G)
MONDAY - 11/24
Windsor Restored (TLC, 10-11 p.m.): It is said that Windsor Castle has so many treasures even a king wouldn't feel at home. Five years ago, one-fifth of the world's largest occupied castle went up in flames. Prince Edward gives an insider's tour of the subsequent restoration effort, a tribute to what $63 million can do. (TV-G) (See story in yesterday's Monitor.)
TUESDAY - 11/25
Indefensible: the Truth About Edward Brannigan (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): Ed Brannigan Sr. (Brian Dennehy) is a wealthy, well-respected attorney. One evening, he decides to hold a small dinner party at his estate and invites his son, a few friends, and a woman he finds attractive, Rebecca (Alice Krige). The evening is going along beautifully - until Rebecca is left alone with Ed Sr. She soon runs out onto the balcony and accuses him of rape. The charges shock everyone, including Ed Sr. It's a familiar story line, but it examines the question "What is rape?" from the viewpoint of the man accused. Absorbing and well-acted. (TV-14, SV)
WEDNESDAY - 11/26
American Masters - Vaudeville (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): Where could you see a plate spinner, a ventriloquist, and "an eater of strange things" all in the same day? Before radio, television, or movies, vaudeville was America's main source of entertainment. Narrated by entertainer Ben Vereen, the program shows clips of vaudevillians, interspersed with comments from writers, observers, and the performers.
FRIDAY - 11/28
Davis Cup (ESPN2, 4-7 p.m.): High-profile tennis players will be seen on both sides of the net as the United States plays Sweden in the final. Last year France beat Sweden 3-2 to win the title.