What's on TV


Listings are not necessarily recommended by the Monitor. All times Eastern, check local listings.


The History of Toys and Games (History Channel, 2-4 p.m.): Barbie and beyond. An amusing and playful look at toys and toymakers, from prehistoric stone carvings to interactive computer games.

Smart House (The Disney Channel, 7-8:30 p.m.): A widower and his two children win a smart house so technologically advanced that the computer begins to think like a mother. The conflicts are a tad familiar - the girl wants her dad to remarry, the boy doesn't, and the computer is a comic female Hal. But this modest little film is good family fun.


Mean Streak (Showtime, 9-10:35 p.m.): This exciting police-action thriller concerns a racist cop pursuing a racist serial murderer out to get African-American athletes. Scott Bakula stars as the white cop whose black partner, an FBI agent, gets him to see his own prejudices. It takes a serious approach to issues of race and justice.

Backstory: Roman Holiday (AMC, 9:30-10 p.m.): The appetizer before the entree. This pilot episode of a new series presents behind-the-screen tidbits on Hollywood classics. AMC then airs the romantic comedy "Roman Holiday," starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.


Investigative Reports: 'Guns in America' (A&E, 9-10 p.m.): Millions of Americans own guns, but gun-control laws are supported by up to 90 percent of these owners. Debates rage as the recent tragedy in Littleton, Colo., and the loss of 35,000 American lives per year by gunfire stir the public conscience - despite the NRA's campaign against gun controls. This five-part series, hosted by Bill Kurtis, is fair to gun enthusiasts while explaining the history and social cost of widespread gun ownership. (Series continues through Friday.)

People's Century (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): "Guerrilla Wars" and "God Fights Back" continue this fine series that tries to give an overview of the 20th century as it has affected ordinary people. The first film takes us into guerrilla movements from around the world, from Vietnam to Afghanistan. In the second film, fundamentalism in its many forms - Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu - makes a case for fanatical reforms in various countries. Both films are eye-opening and provocative, though not comprehensive.


Frontline - 'The Crash' (PBS, 9-10 p.m.): Dateline: Wall Street, Aug. 31, 1998. It's Black Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average has plunged 512 points. Global stock markets are in a state of panic. Russia. Thailand. Indonesia. The United States. Where and how did it start? George Soros and other stock-market experts dissect the crisis.


Dog Show (USA, 9-11 p.m.): This four-day event takes place at the World Trade Center in Mexico City, featuring coddled canines from all around the world.

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