The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

Black in Latin America

In a four-part series, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. examines the African roots of the populations in six Latin American nations. This week he visits Haiti, where he traces the slave revolt that gave birth to the first-ever black republic, then explores the neighboring Dominican Republic, where beliefs about race have been shaped by Haiti’s proximity. Tuesday, April 19, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Frontline: Educating Sergeant Pantzke

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With government spending on veterans’ education approaching $10 billion per year, for-profit colleges are aggressively recruiting troops returning from war, correspondent Martin Smith reports—but the schools may be promising more than they can deliver. Frontline also investigates decades of sexual molestation of Native Americans by Catholic priests and church workers in Alaska. Tuesday, April 19, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Independent Lens: Waste Land

This Oscar-nominated documentary follows Brazilian artist Vik Muniz to the world’s largest garbage dump, located outside Rio de Janeiro. There, he uses garbage he finds to create unconventional portraits of catadores—poor but proud scavengers of recyclable materials. The film is not just about recycling, but about human resilience and the power of art to create beauty out of the most mundane materials. Tuesday, April 19, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Saving Pelican 895

Offering an eloquent metaphor for the Gulf Coast’s effort to recover from last year’s BP oil spill, this documentary traces the fate of one of the thousands of brown pelicans incapacitated by the oil that inundated their natural habitat. Mere months earlier, the species had been removed from the endangered-species list for the first time in 45 years. Emmy and Peabody-award winner Irene Taylor Brodsky directed. Wednesday, April 20, at 9 p.m., HBO

Doctor Who

The venerable British sci-fi series about an eccentric extraterrestrial time traveler returns for a new season with the first episode ever filmed in America. Mysterious messages reunite the Doctor and his companions in the Utah desert, circa the 1970s. Before long, they’re put on assignment by President Nixon to help the FBI save a little girl from an “impossible astronaut.” Saturday, April 23, at 9 p.m., BBC America

Other highlights

The Talk

Chat show co-host Holly Robinson Peete, the mother of an autistic child, shares her experiences in an episode spotlighting how such children make the transition to adulthood. Friday, April 22; check local listings for time and channel

Talking Funny

Comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, and Louis C.K. discuss details of their craft, from how to pilfer material to whether any topic is taboo. Friday, April 22, at 9 p.m., HBO

Secret Access: The Vatican

This two-hour documentary traces the history of America’s relationship with the Vatican and offers rare glimpses of Pope Benedict XVI’s daily life. Saturday, April 23, at 8 p.m., History

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