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The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

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

Val Lewton: The Man in the ShadowsMartin Scorsese produced and narrates this fascinating profile of the film producer whose thrillers overcame budget restrictions with imaginative use of suggestion and atmosphere. It features clips from such quasi-poetic classics of psychological terror as Lewton’s Cat People, which riveted audiences without gore or special effects. Monday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m., Turner Classic MoviesAmerican Experience: Oswald’s GhostAs its title would suggest, this well-crafted documentary by Robert Stone evokes haunting memories of the JFK assassination and its aftermath through archival footage and insightful commentary. Interviewees include Dan Rather, Warren Commission critics Mark Lane and Edward Jay Epstein, activist Tom Hayden, and Norman Mailer, whose book Oswald’s Tale was a sympathetic portrait of Oswald as a lone killer. Monday, Jan. 14, at 9 p.m., PBSAndrew Jenks: Room 335Andrew Jenks, as a 19-year-old, moved into a Florida assisted-living facility for a month to make this documentary. At first his project seems a mere lark, but as Jenks comes to know his new neighbors, he becomes engaged in their struggles with the hazards and indignities of age, and his film takes a deeper and more poignant turn. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m., CinemaxMasterpiece: The Complete Jane Austen, Northanger AbbeyThe cycle of Jane Austen productions presented by Masterpiece (formerly Masterpiece Theatre) continues with this new adaptation, starring Felicity Jones as a 17-year-old girl who is a bit too enamored of gothic romances. Screenwriter Andrew Davies (Bleak House) emphasizes the satiric elements of Austen’s novel. Sunday, Jan. 20, at 9 p.m., PBS

Breaking BadThis promising new comedy-drama series from one of the guiding lights of The X-Files concerns a high school chemistry teacher who abandons his conventional lifestyle for a career as a meth dealer when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Malcolm in the Middle’s Bryan Cranston, who excels at portraying the follies and frailties of the middle-aged male, leads the cast. Sunday, Jan. 20, at 10 p.m., AMC

Other highlightsNOVA: The Race for Absolute ZeroIn the second half of a two-part documentary, NOVA traces the history of cryogenics from the 19th century to today. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings10 Items or LessPartly scripted and partly improvised, this good-natured comedy series set in a family grocery store returns for a second season. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 11 p.m., TBS

Aqua Teen Hunger ForceA new season of bizarre satire starring three anthropomorphic fast-food products begins. Sunday, Jan. 20, at 11:45 p.m., Cartoon NetworkAll listings are Eastern time.

Show of the weekIndependent Lens: Mapping Stem Cell Research, Terra IncognitaThe debate over embryonic stem-cell research takes on a personal dimension in this thoughtful and affecting profile of neurologist Dr. Jack Kessler of Northwestern University. Kessler was working on using stem-cell technology to treat diabetes when his teenage daughter, Allison, was paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident. This spurred him to shift his focus to spinal-cord injuries—and propelled him into the thick of the culture wars. The documentary addresses the ethical and religious ramifications of such research with a refreshing lack of stridency. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Movies on TV this week

Monday, Jan. 14Cat People (1942)A young woman contends with an ancient curse in this tour de force of suspense from producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur.9:30 p.m., TCM TuesdayCross Creek (1983)Mary Steenburgen portrays Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling, in this period biodrama from Norma Rae director Martin Ritt. 8 p.m., Flix

WednesdayConfessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)Sam Rockwell is excellent in this adaptation of game-show guru Chuck Barris’ memoir, in which he claimed to have secretly been a CIA assassin. 10:45 p.m., IFC

FridayThe King and I (1956)The lavish film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway smash stars Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, who won a Best Actor Oscar. 8 p.m., FMC

SaturdayThe Fountain (2006)Darren Aronofsky (Pi) directed this phantasmagoric allegory about a thousand-year quest for immortality. With Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. 10 p.m., Cinemax

SundayHalf Nelson (2006)Ryan Gosling’s performance as a dedicated inner-city schoolteacher who is secretly a drug addict earned him a Best Actor nomination. 9 p.m., Sundance

New on DVD

Zodiac (2007)David Fincher (Fight Club) directed this suspenseful retelling of the still-unsolved Zodiac serial murders that terrorized the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s. With Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. (R, $37)

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