Programs examine tsunamis

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The science behind the tragedy of two Indian Ocean tsunamis, one that struck in 1883 and one too vividly recent, is detailed in a pair of documentaries on PBS' "Nova."

"Wave that Shook the World" (7 p.m. Tuesday) examines December's tsunami caused by the undersea slippage of the Earth's crust along a 700-mile-long fault off the Sumatran coast.

The hourlong program is followed by the 90-minute "Krakatoa" (8 p.m. Tuesday). An estimated 36,000 people died when the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano triggered a massive tsunami.

Technology quickly made the world aware of the modern disaster and provided startling pictures. "Wave that Shook the World" includes eyewitness accounts, video footage and analysis of the waves that spread for 3,000 miles around the ocean basin.

Animation demonstrates how the quake lifted the sea floor and the water resting on it, causing a series of waves that radiated out from the epicenter -- at speeds nearing that of a passenger jet.

The 19th-centuryKrakatoa tsunami was even more powerful although not as widespread. Re-creations and computer animation recount the disaster.

Another show to look out for:

* A memorable chapter in March Madness is recounted in HBO Sports' "Perfect Upset: The 1985 Villanova vs. Georgetown NCAA Championship," debuting 8 p.m. Monday. A string of unlikely victories brought Villanova to the final four, ultimately meeting a Georgetown team powered by All-American center Patrick Ewing and hungry for its second consecutive NCAA title.

More than a game was involved: according to the film, the Georgetown Hoyas influenced the emerging hip-hop culture, clothing styles and social attitudes.

* "Toddworld," airing at 7 a.m. EST as part of TLC's daily programming lineup for preschoolers, begins a week of new episodes Monday. Based on the books of Todd Parr, the program takes a lighthearted approach to conveying its messages of acceptance and tolerance. Among the stories: Todd and his buddies help a new friend, Julian, join in their game despite the fact he's in a wheelchair; Mitzi the cat learns that a family doesn't have to match when she plays mom to a group of puppies, and Todd learns its OK to 'fess up to being afraid of the dark.

-- Air America marks its first year of bringing unadulterated liberalism to the nation this month, but the loftily named radio network had a tough infancy. Filmmakers Patrick Farrelly and Kate O'Callaghan began documenting the enterprise about two weeks before launch and the result is "Left of the Dial," debuting 8 p.m. EST Thursday on HBO. The film includes rehearsal sessions with hosts Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Janeane Garofalo and interviews with nervous executives. "If we succeed, we'll succeed fabulously. But if we fail, at least we'll fail spectacularly," Air America then-Chairman Evan Cohen observed in those early, chaotic days.

-- When a stodgy young lawyer is stranded in the woods with his eccentric grandfather, it's a sure bet the way out leads to self-discovery on the new Hallmark Channel movie "Out of the Woods," debuting 8 p.m. EST Saturday. Ed Asner plays granddad Jack Green, a sophisticated man with obvious contempt for his narrow-minded, self-absorbed family. Grandson Matt (Jason London) has been talked into delivering legal papers to him and, stuck in the great outdoors and out of his comfort zone, Matt starts re-evaluating his choices in life. Mel Harris ("thirtysomething") co-stars.

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