The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

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

The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching

American Masters: Carol Burnett

Generous clips trace the career of the versatile comedienne whose show became a Saturdaynight television ritual in the late ’60s and ’70s. Co-stars and admirers—including Tracey Ullman, Ellen DeGeneres, and Kristin Chenoweth— explain how her work blazed a trail for the next generation of funny women. Monday, Nov. 5, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

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Nova: Sputnik Declassified

The 1957 launch of Sputnik I, the first satellite, appeared to demonstrate to a startled world the Soviet Union’s superiority to the U.S. in space technology. But this edition of NOVA argues a revisionist view: It was the heavy secrecy shrouding President Eisenhower’s program to spy on the Soviets from space that, ironically, allowed them to get into space first. Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings


As CIA operatives await trial in Italy for kidnapping terror suspects in Milan, Frontline’s international newsmagazine travels to Europe and Africa, as well as Washington, D.C., to investigate the practice of “extraordinary rendition” in countries where torture is commonplace. Topics of other segments include traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India and Nepalese libraries. Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 9 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Independent Lens: Red White Black & Blue

In a chapter of World War II now largely forgotten, the Japanese occupied the remote Aleutian island of Attu, paving the way for potential invasion of the U.S. through Alaska. Sixty years later, Independent Lens follows two 85-year-old veterans on an emotional return to the site of a bloody 19-day battle that was kept secret to avoid panicking the public. Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 10 p.m., PBS; check local listings

Explorer: Inside the Body Trade

Advances in organ-transplant technology, coupled with a shortage of donors, have created a global black market in human body parts. Explorer travels to Shanghai, where many organs are harvested from executed criminals, and India, where refugees sell their organs. It is an often grim look at the growing phenomenon of “transplant tourism.” Sunday, Nov. 11, at 10 p.m., National Geographic Channel

Other highlights

Murder by the Book

Crime novelists look at real-life crimes in this documentary series, which opens its second season with Sandra Brown, author of the recent Play Dirty. Monday, Nov. 5, at 10 p.m., Court TV

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel

Segments include a report on the dangers facing Iraqi athletes and officials from insurgents. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 9 p.m., HBO

The Planman

Robbie Coltrane plays a brilliant lawyer who decides to put his knowledge of crime to use by plotting an elaborate bank heist. Sunday, Nov. 11, at 8 p.m., BBC America All listings are Eastern time.

Show of the week

The Deal

Director Stephen Frears and screenwriter Peter Morgan fascinated American audiences last year with their award-winning film The Queen. This is a prequel of sorts, exploring the complex relationship between former prime minister Tony Blair and his successor, Gordon Brown. The film traces the budding friendship between the eager, ambitious Blair and the dour but brilliant Brown, showing how their personalities and agendas dovetailed to their mutual benefit, culminating in a fateful pact: Brown would step aside to allow Blair to run for PM against John Major in return for Blair’s support for Brown to succeed him. Michael Sheen plays Blair, as he did in The Queen, while David Morrisey (of Showtime’s Meadowlands) plays Brown, and the two actors play off each other deftly. Thursday, Nov. 8, at 9 p.m., HBO

Movies on TV this week

Monday, Nov. 5

My House in Umbria (2003)

Maggie Smith stars as an English novelist whose home in Italy becomes a refuge for fellow survivors of a mysterious train explosion. 7:15 p.m., HBO Signature

Tuesday Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

Performance artist Miranda July is director and co-star of this romantic comedy, an award-winner at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. 9:45 p.m., TMC


Ace in the Hole (1951)

In one of his best roles, Kirk Douglas portrays a cynical reporter who exploits the plight of a man trapped in a cave. Billy Wilder directed. 8 p.m., TCM


Braveheart (1995)

Five Oscars, including Best Picture, went to star/director Mel Gibson’s action epic about 13th-century Scottish patriot William Wallace. 5:30 p.m., Cinemax


Citizen Ruth (1996)

The abortion debate is grist for satire in this award-winning comedy starring Laura Dern as a glue-sniffing mom-to-be at the center of a cause célèbre. 8 p.m., Flix


The Hi-Lo Country (1998)

Stephen Frears directed this Western, casting Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup, and Patricia Arquette as the corners of a romantic triangle. 10 p.m., Sundance

New on DVD

The Best of the Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert mocks fatuous TV punditry in segments culled from his Comedy Central series, including his light-saber duel with George Lucas and the introduction of the term “truthiness.” (Not rated, $20)

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