7 p.m. Thursday, March 10
History Channel (Comcast Ch. 70)
Though the idea of living in a place where you might freeze to death on the way back from the mailbox doesn’t appeal to us in the least, we respect the idea that for a hearty few, it does. Given that, we’re glad the United States includes a place like Alaska. Frigid, largely unspoiled and vast — 600,000 square miles, or about twice the size of Texas — our 49th state is surely a sight to behold, with some of the rarest flora and fauna found anywhere. Here, the History Channel gives us a two-hour tour of the land that warmth forgot. This includes a look at the state’s often-contentious history, culminating in statehood in 1959. Zip up your parka and enjoy.
1 p.m. Sunday, March 13
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2)
Few other plants in the world are as beautiful as the orchid — so sensual, delicate, so alien. Even fewer are as coveted by collectors and botanists, leading some orchid hunters to take Indiana Jones-style risks to obtain the rarest varieties in some of the world’s most inhospitable places. Here, PBS introduces us to Tom Hart Dyke, an adventurer and orchid hunter who was captured and held hostage for nine months by Colombian rebels while on a trip there to search for his elusive quarry. Though that brush with death might have stopped most, the quest for the rarest and most beautiful of flowers still drives him. Here, we tag along as Dyke treks into the wilds of dangerous and politically unstable Papua New Guinea.
4:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 16
Turner Classic Movies (Comcast Ch. 30)
While we love all the old Universal Pictures monsters — Dracula, Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon — there is a special place in our hearts for the films featuring that most menacing fiend of all: Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. When you love something, you can really appreciate a spoof of it, which is why director Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” is one of those movies we can sit and watch over and over again. A dead-on parody of the mad scientist genre, shot in black and white and starring Gene Wilder as the good doctor, “YF” features sets and mechanical gadgets from the original Universal pictures, and some of the funniest scenes ever put to film. With its attention to detail and clever in-jokes, it has managed to become as much a classic as the very films it sought to make sport of.