Feature

The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

The best programs on TV this week

The Universe
Astronomy and cosmology are the subjects of this lively science series, returning for its fourth season. The premiere employs computer graphics to portray stars in their final stages of life before becoming supernovae. One “death star” is bombarding its neighbor with high-energy particles from a black hole, while the final, violent gamma ray burst from a dying star, WR 104, could conceivably reach Earth. Tuesday, Aug. 18, at 9 p.m., History Channel

NOVA scienceNOW
Cameras follow an expedition deep into the Arctic Ocean, where scientists hope to learn whether the Jovian moon Europa could sustain life. Other segments include a look at genetic profiling, which can indicate the odds of contracting serious diseases; a visit to a Texas algae farm, where researchers plan to breed biofuel; and a profile of roboticist Yoky Matsuoka, who is developing life-like prosthetics. Tuesday, Aug. 18, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Time Team Special Edition
Two episodes of Time Team, a popular BBC series that has ignited interest in archaeology among Britons, are presented back to back. The first takes the show’s experts to Jamestown, Va., where they unearth 17th-century artifacts and probe why a third of the settlement’s colonists died within months of arrival. In the second, they dig into the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle to find the foundation of a royal structure from the 14th century. Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings

In a Dream
This visually striking documentary portrait of Isaiah Zagar, a Philadelphia-based outsider artist noted for his large-scale outdoor murals, was directed by his son. Like the artist’s mosaics, the film assembles the pieces of a personality shattered by childhood trauma and haunted by depression and destructive compulsions. Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 8 p.m., HBO2

Naked Science: Hawking’s Universe
A fascinating and inspiring profile of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who for 40 years has defied Lou Gehrig’s disease while doggedly tracing the origins of the universe. Cameras follow Hawking, his daughter, and his colleagues as he continues to probe the mysteries of black holes and the Big Bang. Sunday, Aug. 23, at 10 p.m., National Geographic Channel

Other highlights

Top Gear
As the TV auto magazine returns, the hosts test-drive a new “supercar”—the Ascari KZ1. Monday, Aug. 17, at 8 p.m., BBC America

Secret Lives of Women: Mothers of Murderers
The series returns with a look at four women struggling in different ways to come to terms with children who become killers. Tuesday, Aug. 18, at 10 p.m., WE

Acceptance
Joan Cusack stars in this made-for-TV comedy about the rigors of the college admissions process. Based on Susan Coll’s novel. Saturday, Aug. 22, at 9 p.m., Lifetime

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