In his “Miracle Year” of 1905, Albert Einstein published papers that upended centuries of scientific thought. This documentary recounts the surprising and dramatic story of the young scientist’s struggle to develop his revolutionary theories. The coming years would include a failed marriage, ostracism by his peers, and the race to capture a photo of a solar eclipse to prove his radical ideas about gravity and light. Monday, Nov. 17, at 9 p.m., History Channel
NOVA: The Bible’s Buried Secrets
Who wrote the Bible, and why? A special two-hour NOVA looks for answers in the Holy Land, visiting such excavation sites as Tel Zayit, southwest of Jerusalem, where a recently discovered inscription suggests that portions of the Hebrew Bible might have been written a thousand years before Jesus. Artifacts and interviews with experts also shed light on the origins of monotheism. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings
Independent Lens: March Point
A few years ago three Native American teens in Washington state grudgingly agreed to work on a film about the environment as part of their treatment after getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol. This compelling Independent Lens offering chronicles what they learned about how two nearby oil refineries had affected their tribe’s seafood diet—and what they learned about themselves. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings
CNN Presents: One Crime at a Time
Last year New Orleans had the country’s highest number of murders per capita. This April, a witness in a high-profile case was killed in broad daylight. Correspondent Soledad O’Brien rode with members of the city’s understaffed police department, and also talked with assistant district attorneys and the city’s new inspector general, who is struggling to stem the corruption and fraud that threaten recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Saturday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m., CNN
A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All
Taking a break from political satire, Stephen Colbert instead parodies treacly holiday specials, complete with seasonal story line (Colbert is snowed in at his cabin in upstate New York) and duets with musical guests (Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello, Toby Keith, John Legend, and Feist). To help celebrate Hanukkah, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart stops by as well. Sunday, Nov. 23, at 10 p.m., Comedy Central
A train conductor, appropriately, hosts this new documentary series about the inner workings of locomotives. In high-def. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 10 p.m., History Channel
Lost Cities of the Amazon
Did an indigenous civilization once thrive in the Amazon rain forest? Scientists examine new evidence. Thursday, Nov. 20, at 9 p.m., National Geographic Channel
Nature: The Wolf That Changed America
The story of Ernest Thompson Seton, whose 1893 pursuit of a cunning wolf helped start America’s conservation movement. Sunday, Nov. 23, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Attack of the invasive species
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
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