Feature

The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best TV programs this week

How the States Got Their Shapes
From the Florida Panhandle to the Missouri Bootheel, the United States is a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are often odd and jagged. This lighthearted but edifying new series has former Daily Show correspondent Brian Unger crisscrossing the country to talk to experts and local residents about how the pieces got that way. Tuesday, May 3, at 10 p.m., History

Independent Lens: A Film Unfinished
After World War II ended, an incomplete Nazi propaganda film was discovered that provided contrasting portraits of the Warsaw Ghetto: one a true picture of hellish squalor and degradation, the other a staged reality in which “wealthy” Jews seemed to ignore the misery around them. This documentary about the film provides a horrifying glimpse of an urban concentration camp—as well as chilling insight into the Nazi mentality. Tuesday, May 3, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden
Taped in February before a live audience, this concert special captures the pop diva’s elaborate stage show in support of the 2009 album The Fame Monster. Gaga’s mainstream dance-pop isn’t as distinctive as her outrageous costumes, but the show is eye-filling, sometimes raunchy fun, and beneath all the glitz, its narrative of self-affirmation and tolerance has the ring of sincerity. Saturday, May 7, at 9 p.m., HBO

Wicked Pirate City
In the 17th century, Port Royal, Jamaica, was a notorious haven for real-life pirates of the Caribbean—before an earthquake sent much of the city to the bottom of the sea. While detailing the work of marine scientists who are exploring the underwater archaeological site, National Geographic’s team offers a lively history of the thoroughly wicked city’s residents, including privateer Sir Henry Morgan. Sunday, May 8, at 8 p.m., National Geographic Channel

Journey of the Bonesetter’s Daughter
The San Francisco Opera’s colorful 2008 adaptation of the Amy Tan novel The Bonesetter’s Daughter earned wide acclaim. This behind-the-scenes documentary reveals the challenges the creative team overcame as they worked to combine Western and Chinese artistic traditions. It also follows a poignant emotional journey, as the task of writing the libretto inspired Tan to dig more deeply into the family history it’s based on, including her grandmother’s suicide. Sunday, May 8, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Other highlights

The Looney Tunes Show
Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and other great Warner Bros. stars return with new antics that capture some of the zany spirit of the studio’s cartoon classics. Tuesday, May 3, at 8 p.m., Cartoon Network

Flashpoint
The well-acted Canadian police drama about an elite tactical unit returns for a fourth season. Friday, May 6, at 8 p.m., CBS

Dual Survival
This year-old series features two wilderness-survival experts testing their mettle in various hostile milieus. This week they head deep into the Florida Everglades. Friday, May 6, at 9 p.m., Discovery

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