Listings are not necessarily recommended by the Monitor. All times Eastern, check local listings.
Malcolm in the Middle (season premiere on Fox, 8:30-9 p.m.): The first episode of the new season is as dizzy as fans could wish. We learn where Dewey is and why his mother doesn't mind. This frenetic sitcom was a huge hit last year and looks as good as ever with dazzling hilarity in its scripts and from its stars.
Masterpiece Theatre presents: Mrs. Brown (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): The television premiere of the film that nearly won its star Dame Judi Dench an Oscar (she got the Best Supporting for "Shakespeare in Love" the following year) is just the sort of thing to perk up a dull evening and remind us what English history is for - our entertainment. The story about dear old Queen Victoria is very touching. Dench is superb.
Esther (PAX, 9-11 p.m.): The script is a bit ponderous and cheesy by turns. But an unusually good cast including F. Murray Abraham as Mordecai, and breathtaking Louise Lombard as his ward, Esther, makes the best of a bad script and tells the historic tale with a good deal of lively feeling - and very little bloodshed. Entertaining as it is, it sticks fairly close to the Bible story.
Saturday Night Live: Presidential Bash 2000 (NBC, 9-11 p.m.): Pretaped introductions by George W. Bush and Al Gore kick off a two-hour special featuring politically themed sketches.
Hidden Victims: Children of Domestic Violence (Lifetime, 8-9 p.m.): When one spouse abuses another, the children suffer just as much. This documentary, hosted by Dylan McDermott, is a wake-up call our entire society. Domestic violence can be stopped. Interviews with police, social workers, and children who have seen too much.
Royal Diaries: Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor (HBO, 7:30-8:30 p.m.): This charming series for older children and tweens looks at history through the eyes of young women who witnessed it - with lots of poetic license. Princess Elizabeth tells her own story of court intrigue, her father's displeasure, and the tauntings of her older sister, Mary.
Napoleon (PBS, check local listings): David Grubin's excellent four-hour documentary investigates the conqueror's life and plan for all of Europe. His influence over his time is important to understand.
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