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The New Explorers (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): Scientists have come up with a bright idea: Never mind the painstaking detail, the exhaustive surveys, the slow-motion pace of typical academic research. When time is of the essence, you need something akin to the SWAT teams used in police work.

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One result is RAP, the Rapid Assessment Program, developed by Conservation International in Washington, D.C. In ''Environmental S.W.A.T. Team,'' host Bill Kurtis follows five RAP scientists as they assess damage to the largest remaining tract of tropical dry forest in Bolivia. The rain forest has received more attention, but some say the dry forest is even more endangered from mining and agriculture.

Their visit involves not decades or even years but about two weeks -- a mere tick-tock in terms of scientific research. This brevity allows the scientists to rush the results to government decisionmakers and say, in effect, ''Here are the findings. We need action.''

The RAP inevitably faces charges of scientific hip-shooting and undependability, but defenders of the fast work point out that they are not trying to replace traditional methods, but only to save ecosystems so they will still be there for more leisurely study in the future.

A League of Their Own (CBS, 8:30-11 p.m.): Most of the boys had gone to war at the time depicted in this story -- 1943. The result was the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, a group that performed extremely well and continued after the war, as chronicled in a memorable documentary a few years ago on PBS.

This dramatized version of the league's story is a 1992 feature film getting its network debut. It stars Tom Hanks as a cynical ex-pro ballplayer who manages and coaches the Rockford (Ill.) Peaches. Perhaps inevitably, he ends up admiring them, but meanwhile the action focuses on sibling rivalry between two sisters on the team, played by Geena Davis and Lori Petty. The cast also includes Madonna as an ex-dance-hall hostess who is now a player.

Please check local listings for these programs.

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