The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

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

Inside the Vietnam War

Personal accounts of more than 50 veterans intertwine with archive footage in this three-hour examination of the Vietnam War, from the early buildup during the JFK administration to its painful legacy today. The documentary is detailed and sometimes quite graphic in recounting combat, but it doesn’t neglect the social and political turmoil that the war caused at home. Monday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m., National Geographic Channel

History of the Joke

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This entertaining documentary is more an analysis of joke-telling than an account of its history: Daily Show contributor Lewis Black talks to other comics about timing, improvisation, and other aspects of their craft. Along the way he uncovers some pretty good jokes, told by Robin Williams, George Carlin, Kathy Griffin, and many others. Monday, Feb. 18, at 9 p.m., History Channel

American Experience: Kit Carson

Frontier scout Kit Carson became a legend in his own lifetime, a living symbol of the Wild West and an embodiment of the contradictions of American frontier myth. Was he a heroic warrior, or a ruthless killer who slaughtered Navajo Indians? This American Experience profile presents evidence for both conclusions. Monday, Feb. 18, at 9 p.m., PBS

Independent Lens: Banished

Between 1860 and 1930, thousands of African-Americans were expelled from dozens of U.S. towns, many from land they owned. Filmmaker Marco Williams (Two Towns of Jasper) visits three such communities in Missouri, Arkansas, and Georgia—virtually all-white to this day—to trace the legacy of this shameful racial cleansing and ask how reparations might be made. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings


This engaging documentary tells the story of oil—a plentiful and efficient energy source on which humanity has gorged for two centuries. The story began 160 million years ago, but may end sooner than we think. Some experts warn that, though world oil production has probably peaked, consumption still grows. Friday, Feb. 22, at 2 p.m., History Channel

Other highlights

Great Performances: Company

Actors double as musicians in the Tony-winning revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 9 p.m., PBS

Tony Brown’s Journal

In a rare television appearance, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits down for an interview with Tony Brown. Weekend of Feb. 22–24, PBS; check local listings

80th Annual Academy Awards

Jon Stewart is scheduled to return for his second stint as Oscar host. Sunday, Feb. 24, at 8:30 p.m., ABC

All listings are Eastern time.

Show of the week

Frontline: Rules of Engagement

In November 2005, a U.S. military press release reported that 15 Iraqi civilians and one U.S. Marine had been killed by a roadside bomb in Haditha. But four months later, Time magazine reported that U.S. Marines, not a bomb, were responsible for the deaths of the unarmed civilians. The incident caused outrage and became one of the largest criminal cases against U.S. troops of the Iraq war, drawing comparisons to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. Frontline dispassionately outlines the complicated circumstances that led to the tragedy through interviews with witnesses, Iraqi survivors, and accused Marines. The documentary probes the key question about what happened in Haditha: whether the Marines followed the rules of engagement. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Movies on TV this week

Monday, Feb. 18

Keeping Mum (2005)

Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Rowan Atkinson are all funny in this black comedy about a minister’s housekeeper with a very dark past.

8 p.m., TMC


Duel in the Sun (1946)

A beautiful half-Indian girl is torn between the two sons of a cattle baron in

this delirious Western epic. With Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Gregory Peck. 9:30 p.m., TCM


Diabolique (1954)

Two women scheme to murder a faithless schoolmaster in this suspense masterpiece. Simone Signoret and Vera Clouzot star. 4:30 p.m., IFC


Under the Volcano (1984)

Albert Finney won a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role as an alcoholic ex-consul to Mexico in John Huston’s adaptation of Malcolm Lowry’s novel. 10 p.m., Flix


Daddy Long Legs (1955)

Colorful dance numbers enliven this romance about a French orphan and her secret benefactor, an American millionaire. Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron star. 1:30 p.m., FMC


Fracture (2007)

First-rate performances by Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling elevate this far-fetched but entertaining legal thriller. 10 p.m., Cinemax

New on DVD

Michael Clayton (2007)

A corporate lawyer has a crisis of conscience in this thriller, which has been nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Actor (George Clooney), Director (Tony Gilroy), Supporting Actor (Tom Wilkinson), and Supporting Actress (Tilda Swinton). (R, $29)

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