Degas and the Dance (January 7; 8 to 9 p.m.; Channel 13) is part museum exhibition, looking at almost every picture the Impressionist painted of dancers in pleasure or pain; part performance art, re-creating such ballets of the time as La Sylphide and La Bayadère; and part docudrama, with Peter Badger playing the part of Degas. Frank Langella does the talking for Great Performances.
Forbidden Iran (January 8; 9 to 10 p.m.; Channel 13) is the featured story in this week’s Frontline/World, with Canadian journalist Jane Kokan going undercover as an archaeologist to document a government campaign of terror against reformist students—which terror may be why another Canadian journalist, Zara Kazemi, was beaten to death in an Iranian prison last July.
Sex and the City (January 11; 9 to 9:30 p.m.; HBO) is the episode in which one of the quartet gets married and another gets sick. You probably know who from the gossip columns, but my lip is zipped. Anyway, it’s a welcome departure from bikini-waxing and “pancakes for pussy.”
Gracie’s Choice (January 12; 8 to10 p.m.; Lifetime) stars Kristen Bell as a 17-year-old who must first care for and then adopt her own younger brothers to save them from their substance-abusing mother, a surprisingly persuasive Anne Heche. Diane Ladd is also around as Anne’s mother and Kristen’s grandmother for most of this based-on-a-true-story Uplift Weepie.
Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (January 12 and 13; 9 to 10:30 p.m.; Channel 13) is a long-overdue reconsideration of what happened to the war-ravaged republic between 1863 and 1877. According to an archive full of Confederate-nostalgia movies, it was all wounded Southern army, “uppity Negroes,” and Yankee carpetbaggers. Producer Elizabeth Deane and the historians she consults have a different story to tell, as tragic as it could have been ennobling.