The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

When Worlds Collide

This thought-provoking documentary examines the mestizo culture that arose when Native American and European cultures mixed following the Spanish conquest. Journalist Rubén Martínez likens the shock of Columbus’ encounter with the New World to that of an astronaut discovering extraterrestrial life. Traveling from cultural capitals of Spain to landmarks in Mexico and Central America, he shows how ideas flowed both ways across the Atlantic in such spheres as art, architecture, economics, and cuisine. Monday, Sept. 27, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

After the Spill: The Last Catch

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The explosion of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil rig and the subsequent weeks of gushing oil have taken a heavy toll on the town of Venice, La., where residents dependent on the fishing industry were left jobless and angry just as they were beginning to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At 10 p.m., Explorer: Can the Gulf Survive? profiles Coast Guard personnel who are coordinating the massive oil cleanup. Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 9 p.m., National Geographic Channel

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

David Cross (Mr. Show) is the creator and star of this dark farce about an inveterate fabulist whose tall tales land him in London as head of the sales team for a questionable energy beverage called Thunder Muscle—a post for which he is profoundly unqualified. The series also features Cross’ fellow Arrested Development alumnus Will Arnett, as the title character’s irrational boss. Friday, Oct. 1, at 10 p.m., IFC

The Empowered Patient

Don’t be afraid to challenge doctors and insurance companies, counsels medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen in this report. Using case studies of misdiagnoses and procedural mistakes—including ones involving her own mother and daughter—she argues that patients increasingly must take charge of their own care, and even suggests practical strategies. Saturday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m., CNN

Masterpiece Mystery! Wallander, Series II

Kenneth Branagh reprises his pitch-perfect portrayal of brooding, brittle Swedish police inspector Kurt Wallander, in three new weekly adaptations of Henning Mankell’s mystery novels. In the first, “Faceless Killers,” a murder victim’s cryptic dying words trigger a wave of nativist violence, with fateful consequences for Wallander. Sunday, Oct. 3, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Other highlights

Mike & Molly

Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy play the title roles in this good-natured new sitcom about a lonely cop and a schoolteacher who meet at Overeaters Anonymous. This week, a cold threatens their first date. Monday, Sept. 27, at 9:30 p.m., CBS

30 Rock

Paul Giamatti guest-stars as a fussy editor who challenges the burgeoning self-confidence of Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon. Thursday, Sept. 30, at 9:30 p.m., NBC

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