Three documentaries on Discovery examine real Alexander the Gre

Sunday, November 21, 2004

By 26, an age when many of us are still trying to decide what to do when we grow up, Alexander III of Macedonia had conquered 90 percent of the known world and clearly earned the title of "Great" guy.

This week, Discovery Channel is airing three documentaries to coincide with the Wednesday opening of the theatrical epic "Alexander," which stars Colin Farrell as the fourth century B.C. warrior-king.

"Battleground, the Art of War: Alexander the Great" details how, despite being outnumbered more than 5-to-1, Alexander's army of some 45,000 defeated the Persians, thus changing the face of warfare and paving the way for Greek culture to shape Western civilization. It airs today at 8 p.m.

Airing today, "Becoming Alexander" at 9 p.m. follows Farrell as he prepares for the role of the great warrior in the Oliver Stone film. Viewers can watch as Farrell learns what it would have been like to be Alexander: From riding a horse bareback to researching body armor, he must understand Alexander if he is to portray him convincingly. Does he succeed? "Becoming Alexander" offers clues to the answer in clips from the film itself.

Then on Wednesday at 7 p.m., "Alexander the Great: Murder Solved?" investigates his death at age 32. Did he die from excessive drinking or disease? Was he murdered? Forensic pathologists, toxicologists, archaeologists and other experts shed new light on the mystery as they compare conflicting accounts of Alexander's last days back in 323 B.C.

Other shows to look out for: "Murder in Suburbia" is a diverting mystery series premiering on BBC America that pits a crafty pair of female detectives against the ugly business hidden behind suburbia's tranquil facade. Think of them as a British Cagney and Lacey: detective inspector Kate Ashurst is street-smart, while detective Sgt. Emma Scribbins is methodical and meticulous. Played by Caroline Catz and Linda Faulkner, they're also best pals. On the first episode, airing Monday at 8 p.m., Ashurst and Scribbins probe the murder of a lovely young woman who, despite being engaged, had been a member of a club for wealthy singles. Five more "Murder" episodes follow in the weeks ahead.

In July, Elton John performed for the first time at New York's legendary Radio City Music Hall. Saturday at 7 p.m., Bravo airs a two-hour concert special, "Elton John at Radio City," as, also for the first time in North America, he appears onstage with a full symphony orchestra and choir accompaniment. His hits will include "Philadelphia Freedom," "Tiny Dancer," "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," "Your Song" and "Saturday Night," as well as songs from his new album, "Peachtree Road."

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