10 p.m. Thursday, June 8
HBO (Comcast Ch. 35)
War is hell, but the way it is delivered to Americans — filtered and sanitized for our own protection by the news media — modern war in some far-off country tends to be not much more disturbing than a violent video game for your average citizen. That’s why we need shows like HBO’s stunning documentary “Baghdad ER.” A look inside the day-to-day operations of a combat surgical hospital in Iraq — where life and death struggle minute by minute for the lives of young soldiers — it’s a gripping wake-up call for every American. It’s not pretty — no prettier than a slap in the face — but it is effective in turning the abstract concept of war into flesh and blood reality.
ERIC CLAPTON: SESSIONS FOR ROBERT J.
2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 11
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2)
When one of the living legends of rock sets out to pay tribute to one of the demigods of the blues, even those who aren’t devotees of either have to sit up and take notice. Here, fans get a rare peek behind the scenes as Eric Clapton creates an album to honor the iconic bluesman Robert Johnson. Featuring unique and grippingly personal versions of some of Johnson’s greatest hits, including “Hellhound on My Trail” and “Sweet Home Chicago,” Clapton’s search for blues nirvana eventually takes him Dallas, where he records in a long-abandoned warehouse where Johnson cut some of his last tracks. For anyone who’s a fan of stellar guitar work, this is a must-see.
FRONTLINE: THE TORTURE QUESTION
8 p.m. Tuesday, June 13
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3,
Broadcast Ch. 2)
While proponents of the use of torture in the interrogation of terror suspects like to speak in the hypothetical — what if one man knew the whereabouts of a ticking time bomb in a populated city? — those against its use see the sanctioning of torture as the latest step toward a new, darker America. The founding fathers surely disavowed the practice, going so far as to write a prohibition against “cruel and unusual” punishment into the Bill of Rights. With the events of 9/11 fresh in the rearview mirror, however, some say it is a tactic we can’t afford to set aside. Drawing on the opinions of interrogators, psychologists, historians and military experts, “Frontline” takes on the torture question, asking whether torture actually works, when and if it should be used, and the biggest question of all: Can we live with ourselves in the morning?