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TV Smarts


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

* Today--"Biography" (A&E, 8-9 p.m.) This documentary, titled "Sally Hemings: Redefining History," examines her role in the life of Thomas Jefferson. Also, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (ODSY, 9-11 p.m.) This new movie of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic novel stars Matt Fewer as Sherlock Holmes and Kenneth Welsh as Dr. Watson. Also, "Downtown Koreatown" (KCET, 10-10:30 p.m.) This episode of KCET's new "Mosaic" documentary series about Los Angeles takes viewers inside the Korean community.

* Friday--"20th Century With Mike Wallace: The Search for Peace in the Middle East" (HIST, 3-4 p.m.) This documentary compares the careers of two important figures in the evolution of the Middle East conflict, Yasser Arafat and the late Yitzhak Rabin.

* Saturday--"Children's Books" (C-SPAN2's Book TV, 9-10 a.m.) In this interview program, David Small discusses his illustrations for "So You Want to Be President," a book for young readers written by Judith St. George. Also, "Eight Men Out" (Bravo, 8-10:30 p.m.) Director John Sayles' movie, based on the Eliot Asinof book about a World Series in which the Chicago White Sox were bribed to lose, provides an account of social conditions in the U.S. in the early 1900s--"hardball" in every sense of the word. Rated PG. Cast includes John Cusack and Charlie Sheen.

* Sunday--"The American President" (KCET, 2-7 p.m.) This marathon rebroadcast of all 10 episodes of PBS's documentary series on the evolution of the executive branch should be taped for use by high school government and social studies students. Also, "Dateline NBC: Your Kids, Our Schools, Tough Choices" (KNBC 7-8 p.m.) Of interest because of the school voucher measure on the California ballot Nov. 7, this documentary examines the record of voucher schools in Milwaukee, comparing them with public schools. Tom Brokaw hosts.

* Monday--"A History of Britain" (HIST, 9-11 p.m.) This new documentary series that British-born Columbia University Professor Simon Shama has wrought from his "History of Britain: At the Edge of the World" begins with the pyramids and indoor plumbing that existed on the island 5,000 years ago and continues with similar revelations into the era when Queen Elizabeth I turned a second-rate realm into Magna Brittania--Great Britain. Parts 1 and 2 air Monday, Parts 3 and 4 on Friday, 5 and 6 on Wednesday.

* Tuesday--"Ghormenghast" (BBCA, 4-9:30 p.m.) Airing on Halloween, this scary, sumptuous miniseries, based on the Mervyn Peake fantasy novel taught in British schools (along with J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit"), stars almost every UK comic and dramatic star known to Americans, including Christopher Lee and Ian Richardson. Available on video.

* Wednesday--"Time to Choose: A PBS/NPR Voter's Guide" (KCET, 8-11 p.m.) This live broadcast from PBS stations around the country examines the critical issues in numerous states and regions, utilizing public broadcasting's top reporters Elizabeth Arnold, Elizabeth Farnsworth, Gwen Ifill, Jim Lehrer, Ray Suarez, Margaret Warner and Juan Williams.


Compiled by Richard Kahlenberg in consultation with Crystal J. Gips, dean of the School of Education, College of St. Rose, Albany, N.Y. Columns available at

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