NOW: THE RESPONSE TO KATRINA
7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2)
n The PBS program “Now” has joined the ranks of news programs like “60 Minutes” as a bastion of hard-hitting journalism. With the federal relief effort for the survivors of Katrina almost nil during the early days of the tragedy and the city of New Orleans falling into chaos and despair as supplies and patience ran low, many people were left asking why this happened, especially after the Department of Homeland Security was formed to speed up the response to disaster. Our best and brightest newshounds are turning their noses to sniffing out why it happened, and what can be done to keep it from happening again. That includes “Now,” which fields this one-hour town-hall-style meeting in Baton Rouge.
MOVIES THAT SHOOK THE WORLD: THE CHINA SYNDROME
9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16
AMC (Comcast Ch. 31)
n Though lots of people talk about arts as a lever for change, the truth is, art often counts for squat when it runs up against the wall of politics and power. Still, when a work of art — a novel, or film — is able to alter the way people think and act, it’s almost a magical thing. To that end, AMC fields this new documentary series about those films that were so controversial or influential they changed the American discourse. First up is an examination of “The China Syndrome” — a film about the meltdown of a nuclear reactor that opened only days before the same real-life catastrophe was narrowly averted at the nuclear plant on Three Mile Island. Upcoming episodes include looks at “Fatal Attraction” and “The Last Temptation of Christ.”
PETER JENNINGS: A TRIBUTE
4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17
The History Channel
(Comcast Ch. 70)
n What Walter Cronkite is to many Baby Boomers, the late ABC news anchor Peter Jennings might be for many Gen-Xers. Born in Canada, a high-school dropout who rode a weirdly accented voice and wry delivery style to the top of his profession, in the pre-cable-news days, Jennings presided over many of the most important events of the 1980s and ’90s — the Reagan shooting; the Columbia disaster; the fall of the Berlin Wall and eventually the USSR, 9/11 and the first Gulf War. In this two-hour special, his colleague Charles Gibson leads viewers through Jennings’ life and career.