The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

American Masters: A Letter to Elia

Seven years after his death, director Elia Kazan continues to be venerated for such landmark films as On the Waterfront—as well as condemned for having shared the names of suspected communists before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era. Among his admirers is Martin Scorsese, who has drawn on Kazan’s own words and work to craft this poignant and deeply personal portrait. Monday, Oct. 4, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Making History

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Using everyday objects and low-tech ingenuity, three graphic designers “re-create” major historical events on a shoestring budget in this entertaining new series. In Episode 1, they chronicle key moments in the life of Hitler, re-enacting the Nuremberg rallies and conjuring his experiences in the trenches of World War I. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 9 p.m., National Geographic Channel

Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook

Performer and music historian Michael Feinstein hosts a tuneful chronicle of American popular song in this three-part series. This week’s episode, “Putting On the Tailfins,” examines how Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and others kept the American songbook alive even as rock ’n’ roll took off in the 1950s and ’60s. Subsequent episodes will delve into the sounds of the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel

Correspondent Frank Deford reports on the efforts of Jack Thorpe, the son of legendary Olympian Jim Thorpe, to have his father’s remains moved from Pennsylvania to the Native American reservation in Prague, Okla., where the multi-sport phenom was born and raised. Other segments include Bernard Goldberg’s look at the zany world of sports mascots and a follow-up report on Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who saw his promising baseball career derailed by drug addiction before turning things around to become an All-Star. Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 10 p.m., HBO2

Final Judgment

Aging Out, a critically acclaimed 2005 documentary, profiled three teenagers who were making the difficult transition from the foster-care system to independent living. Tragically, one of them was murdered shortly after the film’s release, and Aging Out itself became a key piece of evidence in the subsequent murder trial. This troubling follow-up tells the stories of both the victim and the accused, weighing how the media can influence the criminal justice system. Friday, Oct. 8, at 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Other highlights


The prequel series to Battlestar Galactica returns, tracing the run-up to the humans’ war with the Cylons, an artificial race that once served them as slaves. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 10 p.m., Syfy

Great Performances: Macbeth

Patrick Stewart plays Shakes­peare’s Scottish king in a production that won critical acclaim on London’s West End and then on Broadway. Kate Fleetwood portrays Lady Macbeth. Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

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