Feature

The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

Plus, Other highlights; Show of the week; Movies on TV this week

China’s First Emperor
This three-hour documentary, co-produced with China’s national television network, tells the story of the Qin Shi Huangdi, who in 240 B.C. founded an empire that endured for two millennia. Reenactments portray how he conquered vast territory with an enormous army, imposed unity and law with an iron hand, and then became increasingly paranoid and obsessed with immortality. Monday, Aug. 4, at 9 p.m., History Channel

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World
Actually, the West Lake Restaurant in southern China is the biggest eatery of any kind in the world, according to Guinness World Records. At the 14-acre complex, 300 chefs prepare five-star cuisine for as many as 5,000 diners a day. In chronicling West Lake’s complex inner workings, this colorful four-week series reveals much about the dynamics of contemporary Chinese society. Monday, Aug. 4, at 9 p.m., Sundance Channel

Baghdad High
In Fall 2006, four Baghdad high schoolers—a Christian, a Kurd, a Shiite, and a Sunni—were given cameras and filmmaking training to document their senior years. The result looks at the Iraq war and Iraqi culture from the inside, but also proves that certain things are universal. The boys play, obsess over girls, listen to hip-hop music, and complain about homework—even as their lives are disrupted by explosions, gunfire, and electricity blackouts. Thursday, Aug. 7, at 8:30 p.m., HBO

Masterpiece Mystery! The Inspector Lynley Mysteries
Blue-blooded British sleuth Thomas Lynley has seen better days as he begins his final Mystery! whodunits. Grief-stricken over the murder of his wife, Lynley seeks solace in the bottle and requires the help of his proletarian partner Havers to solve the 15-year-old case of his own godson’s abduction. Nathaniel Parker and Sharon Small star. Sunday, Aug. 10, at 9 p.m., PBS

Primeval
A cult hit in the U.K., this sci-fi series follows a team of zoologists faced with prehistoric critters that keep popping through holes in time and into the present day. The British seem to have a knack for bringing off this sort of outlandishness with a straight face, and the excellent computer effects come from the people behind the Walking With Dinosaurs documentaries. Saturday, Aug. 9, at 9 p.m., BBC America

Other highlights

NOVA: The Dimming Sun
Researchers investigate the effects of dimming sunlight caused by air pollution. Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Inside the Koran
A detailed examination of Islam’s sacred text, featuring interviews with experts and Muslim leaders. Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m., National Geographic Channel

Hope for Your Home
An expert helps financially pressed homeowners make property improvements in this new series. Saturday, Aug. 9, at 8:30 p.m., TLC

2008 Beijing Olympics
Over the 17 days of the Summer Olympics, 10,708 athletes from 205 countries are slated to compete for 302 medals in 28 sports. NBC plans 3,600 hours of coverage across seven networks—NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen, Telemundo, and Universal HD—as well as online. Three-quarters of the coverage will be live, much of it in prime time, including all swimming finals and a large share of the gymnastics competition. The opening ceremonies—which will feature a Parade of Nations into the 91,000-seat “bird’s nest” Beijing National Stadium and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron­—begin at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 8 on NBC and NBC HD. For up-to-date schedules, consult NBCOlympics.com. Friday, Aug. 8–Sunday, Aug. 24

Movies on TV this week

Monday, Aug. 4
Dinner at Eight (1934)
Invitees to a posh dinner party harbor a spectrum of sordid secrets in this classic comedy-drama. The cast includes Jean Harlow and Barrymore brothers John and Lionel. 8 p.m., TCM

Tuesday
The Godfather Part III (1990)
Though not the equal of the first two Godfather films, this third installment provides insight into an aging Michael Corleone as he seeks redemption. Al Pacino stars. 11:30 a.m., Cinemax

Wednesday
A Hatful of Rain (1957)
Anthony Franciosa received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for this gritty portrait of drug addiction. Eva Marie Saint co-stars. 10 a.m., FMC

Thursday
The Illusionist (2006)
Edward Norton gives a fine performance as a magician who loves a woman above his class in early-1900s Vienna. With Jessica Biel and Paul Giamatti. 7:20 a.m., Encore

Friday
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
Metropolis director Fritz Lang’s second talkie was this highly stylized classic about a criminal mastermind whose influence extends even beyond the grave. 11:35 a.m., IFC

Saturday
Zodiac (2007)
David Fincher (Fight Club) directed this dramatization of the Zodiac-murder investigations in 1960s San Francisco. Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Robert Downey Jr. star. 9 p.m., Showtime

Sunday
The Apostle (1997)
Robert Duvall wrote, directed, and earned an Oscar nomination for his starring role in this drama about a Southern preacher who tries to restart his life after an act of violence. 6:45 p.m., Sundance

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