Ships that met their ends in unusual ways are featured in National Geographic Explorer's "Shipwreck Sunday," a special edition of the two-hour Turner Broadcasting System's Sunday night feature, starting at 9.
Often-breathtaking underwater photography abounds in the three-ply presentation that opens with "Secret of the Titanic," an examination of the century's most celebrated underwater expedition. It was in 1985 that host Bob Ballard and his Woods Hole Oceanographic team became the first humans to see and photograph the H.M.S. Titanic since it hit an iceberg and sank 2 1/2 miles below the murky waters of the North Atlantic more than 70 years earlier.
"Where Ships Go to Die," the second segment, takes place at a chaotic site at Alang Beach in western India, where scrap merchants deal in breaking down huge ships for profit. Workers scramble over the ships, using hammers, blow torches and saws without the aid of any safety standards. Such work exacts a toll of dead, maimed and/or burned workers.
The finale shows the thriving sea community of "Shipwreck Lagoon." In 1944, U.S. air raids crippled the Japanese fleet and gained superiority in the Pacific after some 60 warships were sunk at Truk Island in Micronesia. Since then, the lagoon has gone from graveyard to garden. Nature has conquered the sunken Japanese fleet, which now hosts a colorful cornucopia of marine life against a backdrop guns, tires, funnels, machine guns and even tanks. Repeats Monday at 12:50 a.m. and Saturday at 10:05 a.m.
Sunday on The Discovery Channel at 9 p.m. "Discovery Sunday" celebrates the career of the late stunt man Dar Robinson, who pioneered the high fall and held 33 world records for stunt work. Mel Gibson, Burt Reynolds and Danny Glover comment on Robinson's feats. Repeats at 1 a.m.
Sunday on The Disney Channel at 9 p.m. the "Sunday Night Showcase" offers the American television premiere of "Antarctica: The Last Frontier," exploring both on shore and underwater. Footage includes that of a Weddell seal giving birth. Repeats Jan. 16 and 24.
Monday on TNT at 8 p.m. the premiere of "A Taste of Freedom," movie-maker Marina Goldovskaya's first documentary for western audiences. It follows six weeks in the lives of a Soviet family whose daily existence reflects the turmoil in contemporary Russia. Encores: at 11 and Saturday at 5 p.m.
Tuesday on Arts and Entertainment at 9 p.m. "Paris Dances Diaghilev" presents the Paris Opera Ballet performing "Petrouchka," "Noces," "L'Apres-Midi d'un Faune" and "Le Spectre de la Rose." Repeats Sunday, Jan. 13, at noon.
Wednesday on USA Network at 9 p.m., the world premiere of "This Gun for Hire," starring Robert Wagner as an assassin who abducts a stripper (Nancy Everhard) and tries to topple a doublecrosser while he is being hunted down in New Orleans. Repeats Sunday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m.
Wednesday on TNT at 12:20 p.m. the colorized premiere of the 1938 Marx Brothers comedy "Room Service" with Lucille Ball and Ann Miller. Two other Marx Brothers hits are scheduled for the same day: "A Day at the Races" (1937) with Maureen O'Sullivan at 10 a.m. and "A Night in Casablanca" (1946) with Lisetta Verea and Charles Drake at 2 p.m.