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TV Smarts

May 04, 2000

Some broadcast and cable programs contain material included in the public school curriculum and on standardized examinations. Here are home-viewing tips:

* Today--"Money, Humor and Spin" (KLCS 10-11 p.m.) Broadcast of a recent Dupont-Columbia Forum, in which journalists talk about the role of money in the presidential campaign.

* Friday--"Mountain Men" (HIST 6-8 p.m.) This "High Points in History" documentary details the role of French and American fur trappers, in the West from 1807-1840, whose love of adventure and trading profits contributed to the exploration and settlement of the region. Also, "Mexico Night" (TLC 8-11 p.m.) Three documentaries on Mexico: "Mexico City," about the capital; "Divine Magic," on the enduring influence of ancient Aztec religion, and "Amazing Destinations," about Mayan historic sites.

* Saturday--"Captain Bill Pickney's Voyages Home" (KLCS 10-11 p.m.) Documentary on the sailor-adventurer who set out last year in a 78-foot sailboat with a team of teachers to retrace the Middle Passage slave trade route of the 17th and 18th centuries.

* Sunday--"The Body Changers" (KCET 8-9 p.m.) A look at how creatures have developed the ability to change their shapes and other characteristics to survive. Also, "Jason and the Argonauts" (KNBC 9-11 p.m. continues Monday 9-11 p.m.) Miniseries based on the classic Greek myth of the search for the Golden Fleece.

* Monday--"The True Story of Braveheart" (HIST 8-9 p.m.) Documentary presents the historical evidence underlying the movie "Braveheart," which dramatized the 14th century revolt against English rule and brought Scottish leader William Wallace to prominence. Also, "Food in Vietnam" (TRAV 8-9 p.m.) Documentary describes the regional geography and cuisines of the nation from Mekong Delta to Ha Long Bay.

* Tuesday--"The Vikings" (KCET 8-10 p.m.) A look at how a few Scandinavian pirates in open wooden boats were able to navigate the uncharted Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean and Europe's rivers to menace three continents. "The People of the Flame" (TRAV 9-10 p.m.) Documentary on historic sites and religious communities in Iran that have survived modern influences unchanged.

* Wednesday--"Parents Day" (NICK 8-8:30 p.m.) Special episode of Nickelodeon's animated series about an urban fourth-grader being raised by his grandparents. Rebroadcasts on Mother's Day, May 14, at 7:30 p.m.

Compiled by Richard Kahlenberg in consultation with Crystal J. Gips, dean of the School of Education, College of St. Rose, Albany, N.Y. Columns at http://www.latimes.com/tvsmarts.

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