If a photographer has an artistic eye, a photograph may truly be worth a thousand words, an image to be recalled long after the words are forgotten.

PBS's three-hour "American Photography: A Century of Images," airing Wednesday at 8 on MPT and 9 on WETA, traces the role of that art form during the 20th century.

After inexpensive cameras became available in the early part of the century, ordinary people were able to create their own visual images and record events and people of their own lives.

Then, in the 1930s, with the growth of picture magazines such as Life and Look and with the development of wirephotos for newspapers, photography began to influence what Americans bought and how they dressed, and made them even more aware of events outside their lives.

But today, professional photographers face a new challenge: computers by which their work can be altered, often imperceptibly.

ALSO THIS WEEK

PRIME-TIME SERIES PREMIERES

The Strip Tuesday at 9 on UPN

Ryan Caulfield: Year One

Friday at 8 on Fox

MOBIL MASTERPIECE THEATRE

"Aristocrats"

Sunday at 9 on PBS

This lavish, three-part adaptation of Stella Tillyard's biography of the Lennox sisters, great-granddaughters of Britain's King Charles II and his French mistress, stars Geraldine Somerville, Anne-Marie Duff, Jodhi May and Serena Gordon.

The four sisters -- Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah -- are no strait-laced English girls, but women of unconventional ideas and affairs.

Caroline, the eldest, foils her parents' plans for an arranged marriage by eloping with a middle-aged politician who becomes one of the most powerful and most despised men in Parliament.

Emily marries Lord Kildare, a respectable man of whom her parents, Lord and Lady Richmond (played by Julian Fellowes and Diane Fletcher), at first disapprove because he's Irish. Nevertheless, they relent and the two marry, and Emily produces 22 children with him and, after his death, her second husband, schoolmaster William Ogilvie.

Louisa makes a more sedate match with Thomas Conolly, the richest man in Ireland. But Sarah, having caught and then lost the eye of the Prince of Wales (the former King George III is forced to marry another woman for political reasons), suffers through a loveless marriage, drifts into an affair and becomes a "fallen woman," but eventually finds happiness with a military man.

The miniseries, which spans the years 1740 to 1832, is told from Emily's vantage point using the voice of Sian Phillips, who plays her as an elderly woman. It was filmed in Ireland, much of it at Carton House, Emily's big country house near Dublin. When Somerville, as Emily, dances at a ball in the house, look for the painting of the real Emily by Allan Ramsay.

Each installment runs 90 minutes.

A TOUCH OF HOPE

Sunday at 9 on NBC

Anthony Michael Hall stars as Dean Kraft, who discovers when comforting the victim of a car accident that the person seems to be improving simply through his touch.

However, Kraft must contend with those who think he is a fake, including a doctor whose daughter lies in a coma but who will not let Kraft use his powers to help her.

Alan Rosenberg, who portrayed a lawyer on "L.A. Law" and "Civil Wars," plays a physician; so does Abraham Benrubi, the orderly on "ER."

FINAL RUN

Sunday at 9 on CBS

Robert Urich plays Glen "Lucky" Singer, who is taking his wife and young son on a weekend trip that becomes a struggle for survival when the computerized train runs amok.

Singer is unsettled to find that the train is computerized, operated from a faraway control center with banks of display screens. Only one engineer is on board.

As the train pulls out of the station, the passengers, including a Congressional delegation and an older couple, settle in for what they expect to be a relaxing ride.

But the engineer spills a can of soda that shorts out the computer system. Soon the train is gathering speed and out of control. What's to be done about a train carrying 200 passengers hurtling toward a large hospital that, if it derails, is directly in its path?

Urich first played Singer in CBS's "Final Descent." John de Lancie also reprises his role from that movie as Lucky's former supervisor, now an executive with the train corporation.

Also on board: Patricia Kalember as Singer's second wife and Cathy Lee Crosby as a public relations agent. Joel Palmer plays Singer's son.

LETHAL VOWS

Wednesday at 9 on CBS

John Ritter, Marg Helgenberger, Megan Gallagher, Madeline Zima and Jessica Bowman star in a thriller about a man who seems to be an upstanding, caring husband and father but who is accused of foul play by his ex-wife when his current wife dies after a suspicious illness.