The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

Frontline: Cliffhanger

Debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs, and rigid ideologies. In a string of interviews with congressional leaders and other key players on the national political scene, Frontline examines the current culture in Washington and why bargains grand or otherwise have been so elusive for those seeking to address the nation’sdebt and deficit challenges. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings

State of the Union

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Following Frontline’s close-up on budget battles, treat yourself to a preview of other coming political fights as President Barack Obama appears before the 113th Congress to lay out his second-term agenda. A response from a representative of the Republican Party will follow the president’s speech. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 9 p.m., multiple channels

The Americans

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Soviet sleeper spies in this tense though uneven new series, set in the Cold War 1980s and beginning to draw critical buzz. The characters are no Reagan-era Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; they’re Soviet natives who’ve each lived undercover for years, and their allegiances—to their homeland and to each other—are routinely tested as they begin fielding KGB orders while they and their young children live out the American Dream in a Washington, D.C., suburb. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 10 p.m., FX

Zero Hour

Shades of Lost and The Da Vinci Code mingle provocatively in this busy and mind-bending new series. Anthony Edwards returns to television for the first time since his ER days to play a magazine editor and conspiracy theorist whose most paranoid fears come true when his wife is kidnapped and he uncovers a centuries-old doomsday plot. Thursday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m., ABC


Family drama takes a turn toward the freaky in this new reality series, which focuses on a modern-day P.T. Barnum and his adopted clan of fire eaters, sword swallowers, and mystics. Todd Ray’s Venice Beach, Calif., freak show is one of the last such human menageries in the country. Thursday, Feb. 14, at 9:30 p.m., AMC

Other highlights


Cancelled by NBC after one season, this acclaimed L.A.-based cop series continues to impress in its fourth season on TNT. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 10 p.m., TNT

Iconoclasts: Lena Dunham + Judd Apatow

Girls creator Dunham and the past decade’s most successful comic film director discuss screen humor and the creative process. Saturday, Feb. 16, at 5:15 a.m., Sundance

The Amazing Race

The formula hasn’t changed much for this Emmy-winning reality series’s 22nd run, but watching teams tear across the globe in pursuit of $1 million is still mostly compelling viewing. Sunday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m., CBS

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