xplorer: Marijuana Nation
Though it’s illegal, marijuana is the No. 1 cash crop in America, producing annual profits of more than $65 billion. Correspondent Lisa Ling visits secret farms and grow houses to reveal how cultivators are making the drug more potent than ever, despite still-stringent federal laws. She also explores the effects of medical marijuana, which is generating millions in legal revenue in California. Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 10 p.m., National Geographic Channel
Jacques d’Amboise in China: The Other Side of the World
Now in his 70s, former New York City Ballet star Jacques d’Amboise is as active as ever through his National Dance Institute, which teaches schoolchildren to dance. This inspiring documentary follows him and some young protégés to Shanghai for a special performance fusing Western and Chinese dance styles in honor of the 2007 Special Olympics. Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m., HBO
Spectacle: Elvis Costello With …
Elvis Costello proves an affable host and intelligent interviewer as well as a fine musician in this new talk-cum-music show from England. Live performances punctuate lively conversation as Costello welcomes debut guest Elton John. On future episodes, Costello will welcome such luminaries as Lou Reed, Julian Schnabel, Bill Clinton, and soprano Renée Fleming. Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 9 p.m., Sundance Channel
House of Saddam
The rise and fall of Saddam Hussein, from his seizure of power in Iraq to his capture and execution, is dramatized in this four-part miniseries. The narrative unfolds like a Godfather-style family crime saga, complete with intrigue, assassinations, betrayals, and an unstable son. Igal Naor (Rendition), an Israeli actor of Iraqi descent, projects authority in the title role; the charismatic Shohreh Aghdashloo (24) plays Saddam’s wife, Sajida. Sundays, Dec. 7 and 14, at 9 p.m., HBO
In this new tongue-in-cheek action series, Timothy Hutton stars as a former insurance investigator who assembles an elite team of grifters to target corporate crooks, such as the bosses who denied benefits to his late son. If that sounds a lot like the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, it is—but a lively cast and solid production values make the show entertaining on its own. Sunday, Dec. 7, at 10 p.m., TNT
I Am Because We Are
Madonna wrote, produced, and narrates this documentary about the plight of orphaned children in AIDS-ravaged Malawi. Monday, Dec. 1, at 9 p.m., Sundance Channel
Christmas in Rockefeller Center
Tony Bennett and Beyoncé Knowles are among the guests at the annual tree-lighting festivities. Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m., NBC
Lights! Celebrate Hanukkah Live in Concert
The Klezmatics, jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, and other musicians mark the Jewish Festival of Lights. Saturday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women
- This energy source could solve all of our problems — so why is no one talking about it?
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