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. "Ancient Prophecies" (TLC, 7-8 p.m., repeating 10-11 p.m.) This is the concluding program in a series of documentaries in which the past works of scientists and artists are examined for ideas that might be realized in the future. The program features a Jules Verne manuscript, which lay unpublished in France from 1863 to 1994 and also surveys some predictions by author H.G. Wells. (Note: The Verne novel, "Paris in the 20th Century," was published in English in 1997 by Del Ray Books and is recommended as a high school social science resource.)

Also, "Beyond The Naked Eye" (Discovery, 8-9 p.m.). This documentary episode of the "Wild Discovery" series describes microorganisms beneficial to human life--some have even provided inspiration for aeronautical and automotive designs.

* Friday. "Cinema Combat" (AMC 4:30-6:30 p.m., repeating 9-11 p.m.) This documentary about foreign wars in which the U.S. has been involved contains excerpts from movies dramatizing each struggle. Beginning with the Spanish-American War, it covers the period 1898-1996, providing a history lesson on the sequence in which the conflicts took place and how one led to the other. (Note: "Wings," the first movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture, cited in this program, is available on video. Another WWI drama cited, "All Quiet on the Western Front," airs in its entirety tonight on AMC at 6:30 and 11 p.m.)

* Saturday. "Proposition 13: 20 Years After the Revolution." (KCOP, 11:30 a.m.-noon) This documentary describes the current effects of the property tax reduction ballot measure passed by California voters in 1978--told from the viewpoint of its original proponent, the late Howard Jarvis, and his supporters.

* Sunday. "Mikhail Baryshnikov's 'Stories From My Childhood' ", (KCET, noon-6:30 p.m.) This is a marathon broadcast of the miniseries in which the famous Russian American dancer recalls the animated film versions of children's classics of his youth. The films, originally made by the Central Animation Film Studio of the (former) U.S.S.R. have had new soundtracks added by Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker and other American actors. Titles include "Beauty and the Beast," "Cinderella," "Pinocchio," "The Snow Queen" and a Hans Christian Andersen story, "Wild Swans." Recommended for taping.

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

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