Feature

The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

PoliWoodIn this thoughtful film essay, filmmaker and television producer Barry Levinson explores how television has “changed politics and changed the nature of celebrity” by giving stars a platform for their political views. In addition to commenting personally, Levinson follows politically active entertainers such as Anne Hathaway and Susan Sarandon to the 2008 Republican and Democratic conventions. Monday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m., Showtime

The People v. Leo FrankIn 1913, Atlanta factory manager Leo Frank was convicted of murdering 13-year-old laborer Mary Phagan. Public opinion against the Brooklyn, N.Y.-raised Jew had been stoked by local newspapers, in a case marked by anti-Northern and anti-Semitic sentiment. Though Frank’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, he was lynched by a mob that included influential Georgians. Well-crafted re-enactments help illuminate the still-startling case. Monday, Nov. 2, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

NOVA: Becoming HumanRecent fossil discoveries suggest that many human-like species once inhabited Earth. How did Homo sapiens wind up the only survivor? A three-part NOVA uses computer animation and interviews with scientists to present a new theory that, millions of years ago, cataclysmic natural changes forced our ancestors down the evolutionary path that led to modern man. Tuesdays, Nov. 3–17, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Explorer: Inside LSDExplorer visits researchers who are giving certain hallucinogenic drugs their first human trials in the U.S. since the substances were federally banned in 1970. Some are mapping subjects’ brain ­activity during LSD-induced states, while others are using psilocybin, the hallucinogen in “magic mushrooms,” to help terminal patients come to terms with death. Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 10 p.m., National Geographic Channel

Johnny Mercer: The Dream’s on MeThe Oscar-winning composer of such standards as “Moon River” and “Skylark” receives an affectionate tribute, produced by Clint Eastwood. It’s filled with classic clips from films that Mercer worked on, as well as rare interviews with—and performances by—the man himself. Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett, and many critics and historians contribute comments to a thoroughly pleasant 100 minutes. Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m., Turner Classic MoviesOther highlights

VThis remake of the 1980s miniseries about seemingly friendly extraterrestrial visitors will air for four weeks, then return in March 2010. Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m., ABC

Independent Lens: Power PathsA look at efforts by some American Indian tribes to harness renewable energy sources on their lands. Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Naked Science: Earthquake SwarmResearchers investigate why Reno, Nev., was rattled by hundreds of earthquakes during three months in 2008. Thursday, Nov. 5, at 10 p.m., National Geographic Channel

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