TV highlights for the week of Oct. 10-16. Shows listed are not necessarily recommended by the Monitor. All times are Eastern; check local listings.
Transitions: Your Kids in Their Own Words (Court TV, 7-8 p.m.): A poignant and revealing look at young people. In the commercial-free documentary, Court TV introduces Amber, a young girl preparing for the Olympics; Rawn, a top student who loves video games and arcades; Jessika, a student being raised by a single mother; and Jeremiah, the youngest in a family of 10 children raised in the inner city. These four youngsters and their families talk about parental and peer influences, sports, sex, and dating.
Major League Soccer Playoff (ABC, 4-6 p.m.): For the first time, an MLS conference final will be broadcast nationally on network television when the D.C. United host the Columbus Crew. Another game will be broadcast Tuesday on ESPN2.
Crime and Punishment (NBC, 9-11 p.m.): Set in pre-revolutionary Russia, Dostoyevsky's grim classic concerns a student, Raskolnikov (Patrick Dempsey), who arrogantly kills a pawnbroker for money, thinking he is a superior man and has the right. He has not reckoned on the workings of his own conscience, which is stimulated by the police inspector Porfiry (Ben Kingsley). The story has been changed slightly to make Raskolnikov more sympathetic to TV audience, and Julie Delpy is utterly miscast. But it is still a fascinating tale, told in high style, and will certainly lead to widespread reading of the original. (TV-PG)
Vietnam: the Soldiers' Story (TLC, 9-11 p.m.): It's a war that raged for 10 years, claimed 58,000 American lives, and left indelible scars on the American psyche. This compelling six-part documentary puts a humane touch on the war as it retells the story through people who saw it upfront: the soldiers. The first episode concludes with a soldier's insight: "War sucks." It's a sentiment that repeats itself often in the documentary, which continues Monday and Tuesday at the same time. ABC News correspondent Jack Smith, himself a Vietnam veteran, hosts the series. (TV-PG)
Masterpiece Theatre (PBS, 9-11:30 p.m.): Public television's popular series raises the curtain on its 28th season with the Royal National Theatre's acclaimed production of Shakespeare's tragedy "King Lear." Ian Holm ("Alien," "Chariots of Fire") stars as the aging monarch. (TV-PG, V)
Life of the Party: the Pamela Harriman Story (Lifetime, 9-11 p.m.): She's been called the master of reinvention and the greatest courtesan of the 20th century. Starring Ann-Margret, the film captures key moments of Pamela Harriman's glamorous life, from 1941 when she was Winston Churchill's daughter-in-law, to her years married to Broadway impresario Leland Hayward, to her marriage to statesman Averell Harriman. (TV-PG, DS). If you want a more accurate and factual picture of Harriman's life, however, be sure to tune into Intimate Portrait - Pamela Harriman (Lifetime, 11 p.m.-midnight). (TV-G)