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The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching
The best TV programs this week
 

Frontline: Black Money
The World Bank estimates that as much as $1 trillion in secret “black money” bribes are paid each year by international companies to government officials. Correspondent Lowell Bergman reports on the clandestine relationship between the world’s third largest defense contractor, British-based BAE Systems, and the Saudi royal family. He also sheds light on the mechanics of corruption, including slush funds and dummy corporations. Tuesday, April 7, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures: Sea Ghosts
The son of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau heads to the Arctic in search of beluga whales—a species that the Bush administration added to the endangered list with the support of indigenous hunters, and despite the opposition of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Some groups of these whales are thriving while others are dying, an ominous sign of global warming. In high-def. Wednesday, April 8, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings

The Unusuals
This new series tries to blend quirky ensemble police dramas like Hill Street Blues with the black humor of M*A*S*H. In fact, it tries a bit too hard: There are even wacky radio dispatches that mimic the public-address announcements in M*A*S*H. But the cast—including Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia), Terry Kinney (Oz), Harold Perrineau (Lost), and Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan)—is very strong, and the show has potential if it can find a style of its own. Wednesday, April 8, at 10 p.m., ABC

Thrilla in Manila
In 1975 the Philippines was the site of the last of three heavyweight championship bouts between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Emotions ran high during the brutal, epic slugfest—in part because of Ali’s strategic, relentless taunting of his opponent. Using archival footage and interviews with experts and witnesses, this 2009 Sundance Film Festival selection portrays the event from Frazier’s point of view. Saturday, April 11, at 8 p.m., HBO

Witch Hunt
In the mid-1980s, accusations of child abuse in Bakersfield, Calif., put at least eight people in jail for years, and triggered hysteria over supposed ritual child abuse in day-care centers. All the convictions were subsequently overturned. This troubling documentary shows how quickly baseless accusations can ruin lives—particularly when public outrage is stoked for political advantage. Sean Penn produced and narrates. Sunday, April 12, at 10 p.m., MSNBC

Other highlights

Parks and Recreation
From the creators of NBC’s The Office comes this new comedy set in a municipal bureaucracy in Indiana. Amy Poehler stars. Thursday, April 9, at 8:30 p.m., NBC
 
Southland
A veteran L.A. cop and a callow rookie are the focus of this new police drama starring Michael Cudlitz and Benjamin McKenzie. Thursday, April 9, at 10 p.m., NBC

Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union
The gifted comic actress provides a plethora of original characters for a second season. Sunday, April 12, at 10 p.m., Showtime

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

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