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TV Smarts

Some broadcast and cable programs contain material included in the public school curriculum and on standardized examinations. Here are some weekend home-viewing tips:

* Today. “Crusades” (HISTORY, 3-4 p.m.) This show informs students of the events of the Crusades in which the European Christians engaged in wars to recover the Holy Land from the Moslems. Beginning at the same hour on The Movie Channel, Helen Bonham Carter plays in a version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” set in the late 1800s.

* Friday. An evening of television overflowing with movie versions of good literature begins at 5 p.m. with Tennessee Williams’ play “Streetcar Named Desire” on TMC. Parental Guidance advised on this one. At 6 p.m. (and repeating at 9 p.m.) Ovation (OVTN) offers a performance of a stage adaptation of Kafka’s short novel “Metamorphosis,” the intriguing story of a man whose life turns difficult after he wakes up as an insect. At 8 p.m. on USA, the beautiful film version of Edith Wharton’s “Age of Innocence” provides insight into the intellectual and economic upper class of New York in the 1870s.

* Saturday. “Gun Control: The Right to Bear Arms” is the focus of “20th Century with Mike Wallace.” (A&E;, 1-2 p.m.). In light of the recent tragedy in Jonesboro, Ark., this show will raise the issues underlying gun control and provide students with a historical overview of the discussion of gun control and legislation related to it--good preparation for being an informed participant in a current events discussion in school or elsewhere.

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* Sunday. HBO (8-10 p.m.) initiates a six-week series tonight titled “From the Earth to the Moon.” This series of 12 one-hour shows--two each Sunday evening for six consecutive weeks--follows the voyages of the Apollo space missions from the first in 1961 to the final mission in 1972. The show is based in part on Andrew Chaikin’s book “A Man on the Moon.” It is named, however, for French author Jules Verne’s book “From the Earth to the Moon,” in which he prophesied--100 years before the actual event--that Americans would launch the world’s first manned moon shot from Central Florida.

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--Compiled by Richard Kahlenberg in consultation with Crystal J. Gips, associate dean, College of Education, Cal State Northridge


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