Nat Geo’s programming highlights: Week of March 17 – 23, 2008

Coming soon: The M&C review of the fascinating world of Marshall Brain, the author of “How Stuff Works,” puts a fire extinguisher to the test in “Who Knew? with Marshall Brain: Gun, Bike, Fire Extinguisher,” airing on Thursday, March 20, at 9:00 PM ET/PT.  <P></P> <P>Nat Geo’s programming highlights for the week of March 17 through the 23rd:</P> <P><STRONG>“Human Ape” </STRONG>Monday, March 17, at 8:00 PM ET/PT (World Premiere)</P> <P>Humans share as much as 98.4 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees — but how similar are we, really?  Join NGC as we look at what separates apes from humans and try to find the elusive ingredients that distinguish the two.  We show just what our ape cousins can and can’t do — and investigate what is in that tiny bit of DNA that makes us the Human Ape.</P> <P><STRONG>“Mystery Skulls of Palau”</STRONG>  Monday, March 17, at 10:00 PM ET/PT (U.S. Premiere)</P> <P>It is a discovery that could change what we think we know about the evolution of mankind.  National Geographic scientist Lee Berger is on vacation in Palau, a remote chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean.  On the final day of his trip a local guide takes him to a small pile of bones located deep inside a natural cave.  Right away he knows they are human.  </P> <P>But they are extremely unusual.  In fact, these remains appear to be unlike anything discovered before.  Small and strange-looking, their existence defies the imagination.  But who were they?  How did they get to this isolated part of the world?  </P> <P>And just what happened to wipe them out?  Join Lee as he returns with a team of top scientists who attempt to unearth the life, and death, of this vanished tribe, and put their very existence into perspective — calling into question the current theories about the speed of human evolution.</P> <P><STRONG>“How It Was: Secrets of Mona Lisa” </STRONG>Tuesday, March 18, at 8:00 PM ET/PT (World Premiere)</P> <P>With its enigmatic smile and piercing eyes, few faces have cast as deep or enduring a spell as that of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.  This iconic painting has been adored and analyzed for half a millennium, but it remains shrouded in a cloak of secrecy.  </P> <P>Space-age technology peers beneath its layers to solve mysteries surrounding its great master’s materials, methods and model.  Can art historians, curators and computer experts surmise new information where so many others have been left puzzled?</P> <P><STRONG>“Tokyo: Living Small in the Big City” </STRONG>Thursday, March 20, at 8:00 PM ET/PT (World Premiere)</P> <P>Explore Tokyo — world’s most populous metropolis.  This place has it all, except space for its 35 million residents.  Architects must answer the challenge with innovative solutions for living small in a big city.  </P> <P>From tiny apartments that use lighting and inventive floor plans to visually maximize living space to hotel rooms the size of phone booths, see how Tokyo overcomes the space crunch while staying comfortable and maintaining the city’s distinct style.</P> <P><STRONG>“Who Knew? with Marshall Brain: Gun, Bike, Fire Extinguisher” </STRONG>Thursday, March 20, at 9:00 PM ET/PT (World Premiere)</P> <P>In the second of three fact-filled episodes, Marshall Brain, author of “How Stuff Works,” takes viewers on a fast-paced adventure to learn how people, and machines, manufacture some of the most fascinating things in life.  </P> <P>First, visit the factory that produces the world’s largest and most powerful revolver.  Then, at the TrekBike facility, engineers are reinventing the modern road bike, as their latest model — one of the world’s fastest and lightest — is built from the same material as stealth bombers.  And last, learn what it takes to build industrial-strength fire extinguishers and find out what makes them capable of battling extreme blazes.</P> <P><STRONG>“Naked Science: Pluto Rediscovered” </STRONG>Thursday, March 20, at 10:00 PM ET/PT (U.S. Premiere)</P> <P>At 3 ½ billion miles from Earth, Pluto is so remote that even the world’s most powerful space telescope, the Hubble, detects it as nothing but a blurred blob.  But the current mission to Pluto — a nine-and-a-half-year journey to conclude in 2015 — will turn the tiny blurred blob into a detailed land.  In this episode of Naked Science, meet the scientists behind the mission and find out what questions they hope to resolve.  Planet, dwarf planet, or not a planet at all, this mysterious world could hold clues to the formation of our solar system.  </P> <P><STRONG>“Dog Whisperer: Owen, Jerry and Rocky” </STRONG>Friday, March 21, at 8:00 PM ET/PT (World Premiere)</P> <P>Cesar Millan visits the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood to help Eden Espinosa, who stars in “Wicked” as the Wicked Witch of the West, and her Yorkshire terrier Owen.  The obstinate dog barks at the sight of Eden in costume and yelps whenever anyone leaves the dressing room — can Cesar quiet Owen before the show is disrupted?</P> <P>Then, Cesar travels to Washington, D.C.’s Holy Redeemer College to help Jerry, a once-shy guard dog who has become overly aggressive.  The college’s priests and brothers fear Jerry may attack some of the residents, so Daddy is brought in to help the German shepherd overcome his insecurity.  And back in California, Cesar works to put an end to shepherd mix Rocky’s whining — a bad habit that has become nearly constant since owners Derek and Stephanie welcomed their daughter Sophia Grace.</P> <P><STRONG>“Lockdown: County Jail” </STRONG>Sunday, March 23, at 8:00 PM ET/PT (World Premiere)</P> <P>Conditions at the overcrowded Multnomah County Detention Center in Oregon have reached a breaking point.  And in the middle of the chaos, inmates are struggling to overcome their personal issues.  Meet a mother who is battling a cocaine habit, a heroine addict in jail for the 32nd time and a charming but unpredictable bipolar inmate.  How will these three handle the harsh and sometimes violent conditions of confinement while taking on their personal struggles?</P> <P><STRONG><EM>Additional primetime highlights include:</EM></STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>MONDAY, MARCH 17</STRONG></P> <P>“Human Ape” 8:00 PM ET/PT (2 hours)</P> <P>"Mystery Skulls of Palau” 10:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P><STRONG>TUESDAY, MARCH 18</STRONG></P> <P>“How It Was: Secrets of Mona Lisa” 8:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>“Secrets of the Shroud” 9:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>Believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, the Shroud of Turin is one of Christendom’s most priceless treasures.  But little is known about the mysterious origin of this precious relic…or priceless work of art.  Could it perhaps be the work of a cunning 14th century forger or was it really the cloth that covered Jesus when he was placed in his tomb?  Now, with a team of scientists from both sides of the debate, NGC investigates the forensic and scientific evidence connected to the mysterious Shroud of Turin.</P> <P>“Secrets of the Freemasons” 10:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>Its members have infiltrated the World Bank, the United Nations and the Pentagon. They have been present at important historic moments including the Boston Tea Party and the French Revolution. But who exactly are the freemasons? Are they the masterminds of an age-old conspiracy? Or a benevolent brotherhood dedicated to helping mankind?  The National Geographic Channel takes viewers through a comprehensive history of this secret organization right up to its modern day activities.</P> <P><STRONG>WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19</STRONG></P> <P>“Explorer: World’s Most Dangerous Drug” 8:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>Methamphetamine—or “meth” for short—is considered one of the hardest addictions to quit.  Across the United States, its abuse is ravaging rural communities and cities alike and spreading its tentacles to major metropolitan areas and around the globe.  What makes this drug so powerful, addictive and destructive?  National Geographic Channel correspondent Lisa Ling goes inside this epidemic to expose why many are calling meth the World’s Most Dangerous Drug.</P> <P>“American Skinheads” 9:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>Meet the new face of 21st century hate: American Skinheads. NGC delves into one of the fastest-growing and most violent segments of the white power movement in the United States today.  Featuring first-person insight from racist skinhead leaders, sociologists, law enforcement agents and undercover investigators, this compelling one-hour special takes an inside look at how the racist skinhead movement has evolved since its inception in the United States almost 30 years ago.</P> <P>“Taboo: Proving Ground” 10:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>In some cultures, men prove their manhood by enduring pain.  Get a pass into an American fight club, where some successful, educated males engage in physical combat to test their manhood, using anything to attack – wooden knives, soda cans, sticks, even soap-on-a-rope.  On the remote Indonesian island of Sumba, hundreds of men take part in a time-honored event known as the Pasola.  Facing off in two teams on horseback, they charge toward each other hurling spears, all trying to land a blow or knock down a rider.  </P> <P>In northern Benin, young men of the Fulani tribe must whip an opponent twice during a large public demonstration, and then survive two savage blows themselves.  This ritual test of endurance is won when a young man does not flinch, but laughs in his opponent’s face.</P> <P><STRONG>THURSDAY, MARCH 20</STRONG></P> <P>“Tokyo: Living Small in the Big City” 8:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>“Who Knew? with Marshall Brain: Gun, Bike, Fire Extinguisher” 9:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>“Naked Science: Pluto Rediscovered” 10:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P><STRONG>FRIDAY, MARCH 21</STRONG></P> <P>“Dog Whisperer: Owen, Jerry, and Rocky” 8:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>“The Real Mary Magdalene” 9:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>Saint or sinner? For 1500 years, Christians regarded Mary Magdalene as a reformed prostitute. Today, blockbuster fiction has painted her as "the bride of Jesus." New evidence suggests that the truth may be more radical. Was her "sinful" past part of a smear campaign by the early church to remove women from power? NGC examines ancient text, explores long-lost customs and cuts through centuries of political spin to reveal the real Mary Magdalene.</P> <P>"Jesus: The Man” 10:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>He was born in a manger, died on a cross, created a new religion and became the most famous man of his age, but his life remains shrouded in mystery. Go beyond the gospels to examine a shocking, new portrait of a boy who had brothers and sisters, and a man who was not a carpenter. </P> <P>Consider newly discovered archeological evidence that sheds light on both the social influences that shaped Jesus’ young life, and his encounter with John the Baptist, the man many scholars believe was his mentor.</P> <P><STRONG>SATURDAY, MARCH 22</STRONG></P> <P>"Cain and Abel: Brothers at War " 8:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>It’s the third story recorded in the Bible — one of jealousy and murder.  This timeless narrative of brothers’ bloodshed has puzzled biblical scholars for centuries and impacts not only Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions but all of humanity.  </P> <P>In Cain and Abel, NGC gathers a team of archaeologists to go deep inside Egyptian burial tombs to mountaintops of Iran in a quest to decipher this story.</P> <P>“Exodus Revealed” 9:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>One of the greatest escape stories ever told, the book of Exodus recounts how Moses led the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea. But before that, God delivered ten, terrible plagues to the Egyptians including frog and insect infestation and a final, devastating plague that killed every first-born Egyptian male. Can science explain these incredible events? Did the Red Sea really part? What might have created a safe passage for the fleeing Israelites?</P> <P>“Lost Kings of the Bible” 10:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>Are two of the most famous kings of the Bible – King David and King Solomon – mythical heroes or made of flesh and blood?  Jews, Christians, and Muslims have all chronicled the fantastic lives of these kings but skeptics have historically dismissed the stories for their lack of proof.  Now, in Lost Kings of the Bible, the National Geographic Channel explores the groundbreaking new evidence that may provide answers to these questions.</P> <P><STRONG>SUNDAY, MARCH 23</STRONG></P> <P>“Lockdown: County Jail” 8:00 PM ET/PT  </P> <P>"Locked Up Abroad: Venezuala" 9:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>Find out how a chance encounter with a Russian drug lord left two young men serving 10 years in a Venezuelan prison.  Lured by promises of money and beaches, the men had agreed to smuggle drugs.  But once in Venezuela, they realized they had made a terrible error in judgment, and not long after they found themselves Locked Up Abroad.  NGC relives their terrifying story, from the chance encounter that started it all to their prison survival to their desperate escape from the country.</P> <P>“Locked Up Abroad: Nepal” 10:00 PM ET/PT</P> <P>A young man decides to travel the world in search of sunshine and good times but runs out of money in Hong Kong.  So he and his three friends accept an offer to smuggle gold into Nepal, each wearing a vest packed with more than 50 lbs of gold – totaling an estimated $1.6 million.  Upon arrival in Nepal, they are arrested and sentenced to four years in jail.  See how their scheme turns into a bona fide nightmare, eventually leading to a pardon by the king himself.</P>Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.