The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

Independent Lens: Half the Sky

“As long as the victims are poor, rural, female, and illiterate, they don’t have a voice,” says journalist Nicholas Kristof. In an ambitious two-night report that spans 10 countries, Kristof and his wife, fellow journalist Sheryl WuDunn, spotlight efforts around the world to eradicate gender-based violence, block sex trafficking, and foster equal education for girls. Celebrity activists Olivia Wilde, Gabrielle Union, America Ferrera, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, and Diane Lane lend a hand. Monday–Tuesday, Oct. 1–2, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Presidential Debate

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Domestic policy will be the focus of the first of three October debates between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer will moderate the discussion, which will be broadcast live from the University of Denver. Wednesday, Oct. 3,

at 9 p.m., various networks

A Night at the Movies: Hollywood Goes to Washington

Filmmakers Oliver Stone and Rob Reiner, former Sen. Fred Thompson, and Democratic strategist James Carville are among the interviewees offering insights in this one-hour look at Hollywood’s portrayal of the presidency and national politics. A 1939 Frank Capra classic—Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—immediately follows the special’s prime-time airing; Capra’s Meet John Doe airs after the special’s late-night broadcast. Friday, Oct. 5, at 8 and 11:15 p.m., TCM

Curiosity: Plane Crash

After four years of planning, a group of pilots, scientists, and other experts gather in a Mexican desert to observe the crash of an unmanned Boeing 727. Inside the airliner, dummies endure the effects of impact as an array of instruments document the details. Though the chances of dying in a crash are one in 11 million, the project’s aim is to improve those survival odds. Sunday, Oct. 7, at 9 p.m., Discovery

Masterpiece: Upstairs Downstairs, Series 2

As the 21st-century edition of this handsome period drama returns for a second season, it’s 1938 and Nazism is on the rise, roiling both the upper and lower floors of London’s 165 Eaton Place. Diplomat Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard) is deeply involved in the debate over whether to appease Adolf Hitler’s territorial demands, while a secret is revealed about butler Pritchard (Adrian Scarborough). Sunday, Oct. 7, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Other highlights

Miracle Ball

What happened to the home run ball that ended the 1951 National League pennant race? This special documents the search for a legendary sports artifact. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m., Velocity

Forecast: Disaster

The havoc wreaked by floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and avalanches is captured by 3-D cameras. Thursday–Friday, Oct. 4–5, at 9 p.m., National Geographic Channel

30 Rock

As Season 7 begins, NBC’s Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is horrified by her network’s fall lineup—and about being diva Jenna’s (Jane Krakowski) maid of honor. Thursday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m., NBC

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