This week in TV brings 'Suicide Bombers,' politics

Monday, June 28, 2004

Billing itself as American television's only series of international documentaries, "Wide Angle" is returning for its third season and promises to give special attention to stories from the Islamic world. This week it certainly makes good on that pledge.

In the past four years, Israel has been rocked by more than 110 suicide attacks, and now holds nearly 100 Palestinians whose bombs failed to explode or who were arrested before they could carry out their mission.

From inside Israeli prisons, "Suicide Bombers" hears from three of these failed operatives, as well as a recruiter and a bomb builder. Chillingly, each speaks his piece on the hows and whys of an enterprise that most viewers find incomprehensible.

Hear the 25-year-old engineer who built the device used in the Haifa bus bombing in March 2003, which killed 17 people and wounded another 50.

"As for Jewish civilians or women," he says through a translator, "they came to live in my country. That's an assault on me, so I attack them in self-defense."

Also heard from: an 18-year-old who entered Israel with a bag full of nails and explosives, but wavered and returned home, where he was arrested several days later.

"As they kill us, we should kill them," he says at first, by way of justifying his mission.

But as the moment of truth approached, he confesses: "I got confused. It crossed my mind that some people did not deserve to die."

Weekly through September, "Wide Angle" airs on PBS at 8 p.m. Thursdays.

Other shows to look out for:

Odds are your youngster is more likely to listen to Linda Ellerbee than you, especially on a sticky issue like eating healthy. Add Emeril Lagasse with his wholesome, easy-to-prepare snacks, and your kid might really learn something.

"Look Before You Eat" addresses the fact that millions of kids in the United States are junk-food junkies and overweight because of it. But Ellerbee refrains from finger-wagging. "Bad eating habits are learned," she says evenly -- and when kids are armed with solid information, they are more likely to form healthy habits that last a lifetime. A special edition of Ellerbee's "Nick News," the breezy but informative half-hour airs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on Nickelodeon.

There's politics in the air, particularly around tiny Burdick, Kan., a proud farming community on a slide since the powers-that-be closed its local high school a few years back. Then Bill Kassebaum, a rancher-lawyer with no political experience, decides to run for the state legislature on a platform of supporting schools as the key to rural revival. His well-entrenched opponent: the state House majority leader. Filmmaker Richard Kassebaum takes viewers on his brother's campaign trail in "Bill's Run," a documentary airing on "P.O.V." at 9 p.m. Tuesday on PBS.

Cable's Trio network hands over programming duties to Chuck D from Friday through next weekend under the umbrella "My Trio: Chuck D." Among the fare chosen and introduced on the air by this co-founder of the groundbreaking rap group Public Enemy: "Nothing But a Man," a 1964 feature film about an Alabama railroad lineman who falls in love with a schoolteacher. Recognized as the first dramatic story featuring a largely black cast aimed at an integrated audience, it airs at 8 p.m. Friday.

"Cooley High," the 1975 coming-of-age classic set in the 1960s, airs at 12 p.m. Saturday. And at 6 p.m. Saturday, Chuck D performs in a 1999 special, "Public Enemy Live from the House of Blues." Songs include "Don't Believe the Hype" and "Fight the Power."

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