(October 1, 8, 15, and 22; 10 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13), both a prelude and a companion piece to public television’s Eyes on the Prize civil-rights series, follows the course of American apartheid, of the blackface minstrel and the lynching noose, from the end of the Civil War to the 1954 Supreme Court ruling against segregated schools. We not only listen in on Charles Evers, Gordon Parks, and Nell Irvin Painter but meet as well their antecedents – Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, and W.E.B. DuBois.
(October 2; 9 to 10:30 p.m.; Channel 13) gives the songwriter-musician the American Masters treatment, with snippets from his current concert tour and comments from acquaintances like Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, Lyle Lovett, and Neil Young.
(October 2; 8 to 9 p.m.; Channel 13), in which Great Performances goes behind the scenes of the 1961 movie, is handicapped by the fact that Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, and director John Huston are no longer with us. But co-stars Kevin McCarthy and Eli Wallach were available for interviews and so, crucially, was Arthur Miller, who wrote the screenplay for his wife. More interesting than what ended up on the screen.
(October 6 and 7; 8 to 10 p.m.; A&E) is yet another version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s whimsy about dinosaurs on the Amazon, this time starring Bob Hoskins as Challenger, James Fox as Summerlee, Tom Ward as the big-game hunter Lord Roxton, Matthew Rhys as the young reporter Edward Malone, Elaine Cassidy as the delicious Agnes, and – mirabile dictu – Peter Falk as the Reverend Theo Kerr, who will do absolutely anything to discredit Darwin’s new theory of evolution. New Zealand looks like Brazil, and the beasts are the best ever on a small screen.
(October 6; 9 to 11 p.m.; CBS) could have been another Barbarians at the Gate, except that Larry Gelbart didn’t write the screenplay – and you can’t use all those dirty words on network television anyway. But Shirley MacLaine, Parker Posey, and Shannen Doherty enjoy themselves shamelessly in this catty account of a corporate war between competing cosmetics companies.