Feature

The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

Frontline: The Dancing Boys of AfghanistanIn Afghanistan, the ancient tradition of bacha bazi—in which poor young boys dress in women’s clothes to serve as both musical performers and concubines for men—has re-emerged since the Taliban lost power. An Afghan journalist finds disturbing instances of sexual abuse and even murders of the boys, sometimes with the complicity of authorities. Tuesday, April 20, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed CountryIn September 2007, tens of thousands of Burmese citizens, many of them Buddhist monks, took to the streets to protest against the brutal military regime that has ruled the nation for 40 years. The footage of the “Saffron Revolution,” shot covertly by daring underground video journalists, earned this film an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. Tuesday, April 20, at 9:30 p.m., HBO

Independent Lens: Dirt! The MovieThis engaging documentary employs droll animation and interviews with everyone from Nobel laureates to humble farmers, in order to demonstrate that dirt is “the living, breathing skin of the Earth.” Yet it also makes a convincing case that years of destructive practices have yielded a bitter harvest: starvation, drought, floods, and global warming. Tuesday, April 20, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

You Don’t Know JackIn hands less sure than those of director Barry Levinson, a biodrama about Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the controversial champion of assisted suicide for terminal patients, could have been a disaster. Instead, it’s a sometimes funny, often poignant portrait of a stubborn individualist, as well as a thoughtful treatment of an emotion-fraught issue. Al Pacino leads a cast that includes Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, and Brenda Vaccaro. Saturday, April 24, at 9 p.m., HBO

Toxic Towns USAResidents of Mossville, La., a predominantly African-American town surrounded by 14 chemical plants, say that exposure to toxic chemicals has caused a local epidemic of cancers and other ailments. Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates the actions of manufacturers—and inaction of government regulators—in Mossville and other environmentally hazardous American communities. Saturday, April 24, at 8 p.m., CNN

Other highlights

Explorer: 25 YearsThis two-hour special collects colorful highlights from the longest-running documentary series on cable. Monday, April 19, at 9 p.m., National Geographic Channel

GravityIn this new comedy-drama series, Krysten Ritter and Ivan Sergei portray two survivors of attempted suicides who meet in an outpatient group. Friday, April 23, at 10:30 p.m., Starz

America The Story of UsThis 12-hour documentary miniseries, airing over six weeks, recounts 400 years of American history, from the arrival of English settlers through World War II and modern times. Sundays, April 25–May 30, at 9 p.m., History

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