The Third Monday in October
In this highly engaging documentary, student council elections in four very different middle schools play out against the backdrop of the 2004 presidential election. The film delivers suspense—and holds up a timely mirror to national politics—as it follows the contrasting campaigns of 11 appealing eighth-graders in California, Texas, and Georgia. Monday, Oct. 20, at 9 p.m., Sundance Channel

Frontline: Heat
This two-hour Frontline investigation talks to CEOs and policymakers on four continents—from a Chinese coal conglomerate to an Indian SUV maker to a U.S. oil giant—to survey the business sector’s response to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Its verdict: Around the world, environmental concerns continue to take a back seat to profits. Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Independent Lens: Chicago 10
Independent Lens begins its new season on a provocative note with this unconventional, award-winning documentary. Animated versions of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, and their fellow antiwar activists blend with archive footage to how their trial on charges of conspiring to disrupt the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago degenerated into farce. Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

This lively interview show, which pairs notables from different disciplines, recently started its fourth season. This week the worlds of fine art and couture come together in the persons of Ed Ruscha, titan of the pop art movement, and Stella McCartney, whose work as a fashion designer allowed her to step out of the shadow of her father, Paul. Thursday, Oct. 23, at 10 p.m., Sundance Channel

Inside New Orleans High
Dominated by gangs and rife with gun violence, Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans sends only one in four of its seniors on to college. Over six months, cameras follow four people—a gang member, a teacher, a teenage mother, and the senior prom king—as they navigate one of America’s most dangerous schools. Sunday, Oct. 26, at 10 p.m., National Geographic Channel

Other highlights
First shown on the Web, this interesting new fantasy series makes heavy use of computer-generated backgrounds. Friday, Oct. 24, at
10 p.m., Sci Fi

Saturday Night Live
Jon Hamm, star of the Emmy-winning Best Drama Mad Men, lets his hair down as host; Coldplay is the musical guest. Saturday, Oct. 25, at 11:30 p.m., NBC

Nature: White Falcon, White Wolf
The award-winning series starts a new season with a look at white gyrfalcons and Arctic wolves on Canada’s remote Ellesmere Island. Sunday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m., PBS

Show of the week
NOVA: Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives
Mark Oliver Everett—known to music aficionados as E, of the critically acclaimed rock band Eels—is the son of “one of the most important scientists of the 20th century,” according to Scientific American. The late Hugh Everett III developed an abstruse and revolutionary theory—that every decision we make creates a parallel universe. An outstanding episode of NOVA, featuring Mark’s own wistful songs, follows his quest to understand a man whom he lived with but never really knew. His journey leads him not only to his father’s friends and colleagues but also into the puzzling worlds of quantum physics and mental illness. Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m., PBS

Movies on TV this week

Monday, Oct. 20
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Sofia Coppola’s controversial portrait of the ill-fated queen of France drew both awards and boos at the Cannes film festival. Kirsten Dunst plays the title role. 9:30 a.m., Encore

The Public Enemy (1931)
James Cagney shoved a grapefruit into Mae Clarke’s face in this classic portrait of an ambitious gangster—the role that made him a star. 9:45 p.m., TCM

Mutual Appreciation (2005)
This low-budget comedy about a young musician’s artistic and romantic struggles in New York City drew critical plaudits. 11:05 a.m., Sundance

Silver Streak (1976)
In the first of their string of comedy collaborations, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor get mixed up in murder aboard a cross-country train. Jill Clayburgh co-stars. 8 p.m., FMC

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
The quintessential 1980s teen comedy transcends its genre, due to Matthew Broderick’s charm as a high school senior playing hooky in Chicago. 10 p.m., Cinemax

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
For the second time, Cate Blanchett played Elizabeth I—and drew her second Best Actress Oscar nomination—in this sequel to 1998’s Elizabeth. With Clive Owen and Geoffrey Rush. 8 p.m., HBO

The Private Life of Henry VIII
Charles Laughton won a Best Actor Oscar in this inaccurate but entertaining biodrama. The monarch’s many wives include Merle Oberon, Wendy Barrie, and Laughton’s real-life wife, Elsa Lanchester. 8 p.m., TCM