The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

Koran by Heart

Each year during Ramadan, Cairo hosts the International Holy Koran Competition, in which Muslim children vie in reciting the religious text from memory. This film spotlights three 10-year-old competitors: an illiterate Tajik, a Maldivian girl who is among the few female entrants, and a Senegalese boy who can recite Arabic but doesn’t understand it. Their stories shed light on the tensions roiling the newest generation of Islam. Monday, Aug. 1, at 9 p.m., HBO

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

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Filmed in Paris in mid-June, these special episodes of Le Late Late Show Avec Craig Ferguson mark the first time an American late-night program has traveled to the City of Light. Actress Kristen Bell joins Ferguson and his sidekicks Geoff Peterson (a robot skeleton) and Secretariat (a pantomime horse) as they desecrate such hallowed sites as the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, and Versailles. Monday–Friday, Aug. 1–5, at 12:37 a.m., CBS

Live From Lincoln Center: Mostly Mozart Festival Opening Night

Violinist Christian Tetzlaff and violist Antoine Tamestit join the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra to perform the Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major for this opening-night gala. In addition, acclaimed American soprano Susanna Phillips sings an aria from Don Giovanni and music director Louis Langrée conducts Mozart’s “Linz” Symphony. Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Steam of Life

For often-taciturn Finnish men, the sauna is not just a national obsession but may also be the only place where they can bare both their bodies and their souls. Sometimes funny and often poignant, this award-winning documentary ventures into the steamy sanctum of a dozen men—to catch them in the act of sharing their lives’ triumphs and regrets. Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings


Did God create the universe? That’s the provocative question that astrophysicist Stephen Hawking poses in the debut of this new series, launching him into a review of scientific progress from ancient Greek astronomy to Einstein. After the episode, a roundtable of theologians weighs in. Future episodes will bring in other guest hosts to ponder such quandaries as “Could you live forever?” and “Why is sex fun?” Sunday, Aug. 7, at 8 p.m., Discovery

Other highlights

Moby Dick

Encore’s first foray into original programming is a new two-night adaptation of the Herman Melville classic, starring William Hurt as Ahab. With Ethan Hawke and Gillian Anderson. Monday–Tuesday, Aug. 1–2, at 8 p.m., Encore

Summer of the Shark

Shark sightings were common in Australia in the summer of 2009. This documentary, part of Discovery’s annual Shark Week programming stunt, investigates why. Monday, Aug. 1, at 10 p.m., Discovery

Picker Sisters

This new series follows interior designers Tracy Hutson and Tanya McQueen as they search for bargain items and transform them into fashionable accessories to be sold in their Los Angeles store. Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 10 p.m., Lifetime

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