What's on TV
SHOWS WORTH NOTING FOR MAY 4-10
Woody Allen: A Life in Film (TCM, 8-9:30 p.m.): He may play the perpetually paranoid intellectual, but Allen says he's a regular guy. This extended interview, intercut with scenes from his best films ("Sleeper," "Annie Hall," "Bullets Over Broadway"), gives us a clear view of his troubled talent. Playing out existential despair in his films, he grapples with the idea of morality in a meaningless universe and he always loses. Though his story may be disappointing, it's involving.
The Living Edens: Temple of the Tigers (PBS, check local listings): One of the most exquisite creatures on earth, now endangered, the tiger prowls the protected domain of an ancient Hindu temple in India's Bandhavgarh National Park, where thousands pray each year. The 20th season of the marvelous Nature series is well served by this fine documentary.
American Experience: Ulysses S. Grant (PBS, May 5 at 9-11 p.m., continues May 12): He was a better general and a better president than he's usually given credit for. He won the Civil War using brilliant strategy and later, when he became president, he tried to protect newly freed African Americans from intransigent Southern whites. But he was also hopeless in business, losing all his money frequently. At the end of his life, he struggled to finish his memoirs to leave money for his wife. Grant's life is a more complex story than we were taught. American Experience sets the record straight.
Masterpiece Theatre: Innocents (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): The powerful drama takes on the modern British medical establishment as it tells the story of a hospital where too many babies die. Anesthesiologist Steve Bolsin (Aden Gillett) gathers evidence against two doctors whose incompetence is only surpassed by their arrogance. Excellent performances and a devastating subject.
Frontline: Muslims (PBS, 9-11, check local listings): Frontline continues its best efforts with this riveting documentary about Islam, which has as many varieties of practice as there are Protestant sects. The film is well-made and even-handed. But it does leave a few questions unasked, and it fails to point out obvious ironies, trusting us to connect the dots.