"The Island President" (PBS, Monday, 10 p.m.). Comprising 2,000 pancake-flat islands in the Indian Ocean, with a mean elevation of about five feet above sea level, the Maldives will be the first nation to go, literally, when the oceans rise. Jon Shenk's documentary follows then-president Mohamed Nasheed on a mission to save his country, his people and maybe the world. A frequently jailed activist who once spent 18 months in solitary confinement in a corrugated iron shed, Nasheed hits the road to make his quixotic case for environmental responsibility. "We in the Maldives desperately want to believe that one day our words will have an effect," he declares to the United Nations, "and so we continue to shout them even though we know you're not really listening." Handsomely shot and smartly edited, it works as a sort of dry, dark comedy of international diplomacy as seen from a low vantage point, as a soundtrack of Radiohead songs (the instrumental bits mostly) reminds you that this stuff is serious.
"The Bletchley Circle" (PBS, premieres Sunday, 10 p.m.). A Scooby Gang of female former WWII code-breakers reconvene several years later to solve a string of murders, no thanks to a lot of mostly useless men. An ode in browns, grays, brick-reds and dark-room-blacks to pluck, teamwork (with occasional disagreements), sisterhood and braininess. (Charts! Equations!) In three increasingly nerve-wracking installments.
"Remember Sunday" (ABC, Sunday, 9 p.m.) A TV-sized rom-com, sentimental yet hard-headed in the clutch, with Zachary Levi (Chuck on "Chuck") and Alexis Bledel (Rory the Gilmore Girl) in roles that in another day, on a bigger screen, would have been taken by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, speaking lines by Norah Ephron. (Alternately, it's a less wacky rewrite of "50 First Dates.") Levi plays a former genius cosmologist whose life has been circumscribed by a condition that wipes his recent memory clean when he sleeps: Everyone he meets stays a stranger. Bledel is a lovelorn waitress he manages to court. Much of it is pat, yet rewarding in its patness, and the final twist is a good one. Merrit Wever does fine, quiet work as Levi's sister.
"Rectify" (Sundance Channel, premieres Monday, 9 p.m.) Sundance Channel follows the most excellent "Top of the Lake" with this similarly stately tone poem, set in a Georgia small town and centered on a man back home after spending two decades in prison for a murder he may not have committed. (Some disagree.) Flogging the fact that its "first wholly-owned original series" comes from producers of "Breaking Bad," Sundance promos suggest a thrill ride, but its salient feature is its stillness. The premise adds a whodunit pressure, but foremost there is the poetry of trees and ponds and diners and houses, and the dialed-down performances of an excellent cast that makes every scene ring true.
"Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington" (HBO, various times through April 30, and on HBO2 in May). Sebastian Junger's documentary on the late photojournalist Tim Hetherington, with whom he co-directed the Oscar-nominated documentary "Restrepo" (about front line soldiers in Afghanistan). Tall, good-looking and personable, Hetherington, who was killed two years ago this month in Libya, had a touch with cameras and with humans. "Moral outrage motivates me," he says here, "but... I think we need to build bridges to people." Artists are sometimes elevated by early death, but Junger's film is a winning case for the work: From West Africa to Afghanistan, Hetherington made beautiful pictures that found the dailiness in the craziness, the stillness in the chaos, the peace within the war.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times