All day Friday, Aug. 19
Turner Classic Movies (Comcast Ch. 30)
Though Marlon Brando might always best be known for his turn as Don Corleone in “The Godfather,” you don’t get to be a legend over one role. Brando’s films include a long list of classics, a record matched only by the Mount Olympus-grade actors of his generation. Survey a couple of his movies, from all stages of his long career, and you’ll know why he’s rated among the best of the best of the best. Here, Turner Classic Movies holds a Brando-thon, showing 10 of his non-Godfather best, including “The Wild One” (1953), “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951), “On the Waterfront” (1954), and “The Freshman” (1990).
NOVA: BATTLE PLAN
5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2)
If you’ll remember, we were supposed to be out of Iraq by now — moved on to conquer the next evil Middle Eastern dictatorship. The only problem, the Bush administration told us, will be brushing all the rose petals out of our hair as we march triumphantly into Baghdad, mobbed by the adoring, newly liberated citizenry. Besides, this wasn’t going to be your grandpa’s war, the Pentagon said, showing off high-tech drones and smart bombs. Now, almost 2,000 dead soldiers later, we’re stuck in a war without end, the people we were supposed to liberate are now our enemies, and America is left wondering why. Here, in a first-time collaboration with the New York Times, “Nova” goes searching for answers. Did we have a back-up plan? What happened to all those high-tech weapons? Will we ever get out of Iraq?
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER
8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22
Spike TV (Comcast Ch. 63)
If professional rasslin’ is too fake for your taste, boxing too regulated and hitting somebody over the head with a lead pipe too illegal, you might want to try this Spike TV offering. Based on the real-life brawling that goes on in the Ultimate Fighting Championship series, this reality show follows 18 modern-day gladiators as they try to use their martial arts skills to battle their way to the top. It’s bloody, brutal and banned in quite a few states, with the contestants pummeling each other in no-rules fighting that can involve fists, feet, elbows, knees and headbutts. No, seriously, nothing fake here. The prize for the young contestants is a big one, however: a lucrative and high-profile contact with the UFC.