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TV Notes: Amandla

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Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony (April 22; 7 to 8:45 p.m.; Cinemax), purporting to be the soundtrack of the struggle against apartheid, is mostly talk. Some of it—by musicians, scholars, dissidents, former guerrillas, retired riot cops—is fascinating, some vainglorious. And we never hear a single song.

Secret of Photo 51 (April 22; 8 to 9 p.m.; Channel 13), a Nova retrospective on the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of DNA’s double-helix design, emphasizes the shameful neglect of the work of crystallographer and molecular biologist Rosalind Franklin, whose data James Watson and Francis Crick saw and borrowed without her knowledge or permission.

Bird by Bird With Annie: A Portrait of Anne Lamott (April 22; midnight to 1 a.m.; Channel 13) follows the writer in and out of bookstores and kitchens while she is charming in not quite equal amounts about alcoholism, activism, single motherhood, and Jesus Christ.

Muddy Waters: Can’t Be Satisfied (April 23; 8 to 9 p.m.; Channel 13) listens in on the latest “American Master,” the rollin’ stone and hoochie-coochie man, before and after which the “dirty bluesman” is talked about by B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Chuck D, Keith Richards, and other worthies.

A New History of the World (April 24; 10 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13), the third installment of public television’s “Big Ideas” series of conversations with scholars at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, features Kirk Varnedoe, former chief curator of painting and sculpture at MoMA, and Glen Bowersock, a classical historian who has been studying ancient mosaics recently discovered in Jordan, plus chats with political philosopher Michael Walzer about just wars and with Islamic art historian Oleg Grabar about Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock.

Eloise at the Plaza (April 27; 7 to 9 p.m.; ABC), with newcomer Sofia Vassilieva as Eloise and old-timer Julie Andrews as her nanny, involves a 6-year-old prince gone missing from the famous hotel. Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranksi, and Debra Monk assist in the agreeable proceedings.


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