Remote Patrol

This four-hour miniseries merges disconcertingly dreamy visuals with engaging commentary from academics. It's questionable whether atrocity ought to be easily digestible, but Slavery and the Making of America does it well, re-enacting the specific, heartrending tales of real men and women as a way to communicate both the everyday texture of slavery and the grand arc of American history. Coming just a few weeks after an inauguration in which, as Jon Stewart pointed out, President Bush spouted the words liberty (15 times) and freedom (27) so compulsively he seemed to empty them of all meaning, this program's emphasis on our forefathers' hypocrisy packs an extra intense punch.

I was pleasantly surprised by this cable series about young swashbucklers living in the shadows of their legendary Three Musketeer dads. Sure, it has the kind of low-rent visuals not seen since Xena and the writers haven't yet convinced me that I really need to watch a show about swordsmen, but Young Blades brims with a Princess Bride-style sweetness and goofy wit that might just prevail.

The Wire's third season is over, but fans of this exceptional drama may want to make a pilgrimage to this panel discussion to soak up the wisdom of creator David Simon, producer-writers George Pelecanos and Ed Burns, and several of the show's actors. Tickets are $15; call 212.621.6600 for more information.

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