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Nomads of the Wind (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): At a time when most European mariners were afraid they would drop off the edge of the Earth if they sailed too far, seafaring people we now call Polynesians were voyaging huge distances across the South Pacific in boats that were basically two-hulled canoes carved from tree trunks. The migration started some 2,000 years ago and brought them to Tahiti, the Marquesas, Hawaii, and other islands.

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This five-part miniseries - a BBC-TV-Thirteen/WNET co-production hosted by George Page - tells the epic and often inspiring story of their settlement of the islands. The programs also record the history of the islands themselves, especially their wildlife, and the mutual impact of humans and nature.

BBC crews spent about three years traveling the islands, recording evidence of everything from early tattooing to the arrival of Captain Cook in the 18th century. The series doesn't leave out the islands' own pre-European ecological and political problems, or the violent end of Easter Island's culture.

The opening show, ``The Faraway Heaven,'' describes the early voyages and the settlement of Tahiti and the Marquesas. (Parts two and three air on Monday, and parts four and five on Tuesday, 8-10 p.m. both days.)


The Late Show with David Letterman Video Special (CBS, 10-11 p.m.): Suppose you pulled up to a McDonald's drive-through window and discovered the person handing you your bag was David Letterman. It happens to some customers on one of the many segments offered in this special, a showcase of Letterman video exploits that have aired since he began on CBS in August 1993.

The prime-time slot gives non-late-night types a chance to sample the Letterman style. He indulges his oddball wit in escapades on the streets of New York, the New Jersey suburbs, around Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

Yes, there will be a top-10 list.

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Please check local listings for these programs.

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