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SUNDAY

The Passionate Eye:

The Peacekeepers

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Newsworld, 10 p.m.

Like Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, The Peacekeepers straddles two worlds -- one black, the other predominately white -- both of them bewildering in their complexities, except where they intersect. Filmmaker Paul Cowan's feature-length documentary first plunges us into the bureaucratic snarl of the United Nations, then into the recent bloodbath in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations attempts to prevent another fiasco like Rwanda. I soon gave up trying to follow the intricacies of the parallel stories, arrested by two disparate images: the cool toughness of the head of DPKO's African Division, Meg Carey, her austere freckled fairness a striking contrast to a darkly saturated image of a young Congolese girl laid out in death, gleaming entrails resting on her belly. For all the endless rounds of negotiations -- with DRC warlords for concessions and UN delegates for cash and troops -- seen here, it really comes down to two compelling forces: Carey's composure as she navigates unending red-tape and politics while trying to restore some measure of humanity to the region and the vivid horror of a nation annihilating itself. The often-chilling indifference of a self-serving and fractured international community is almost swallowed up by the terrible, desperate beauty in the grieving and traumatized Congolese faces at the heart of this darkness.

MONDAY

The Worst Jobs in History

History, 9 p.m.

Talk about stoop and scoop. For the Groom to the Stool, the job also involved wipe. This Tudor-era royal servant position is just one of the really awful occupations to make Tony Robinson's list. Though that gig is strictly no show, all tell, Robinson (aka Baldrick) not only tells us about the worst jobs ever, he tries his hand (or feet) at most of them. Robinson treads in a tub of two-week-old urine to soften wool and plays pat a cake with dung mixed with straw and water before daubing it on a twig wall as mortar. Not all the jobs are that icky. Some are plain tedious and dangerous like soldering heads to pins 50 hours a week, until lung disease gets you, that is. Robinson delivers his darkly humourous history in three parts, performing more thankless tasks Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

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The Singular Series:

Drama Queen

Bravo!, 8 p.m.

Chocolate, champagne and cunning of the type loved by women, set us up for this hour of bawdy humour. British-born Alex Dallas commands the stage as she opens with just those three C-words and an arched eyebrow, perfectly timed. Delivering a provocative comic monologue more nuanced than most, she effortlessly moves us from laughter to pathos with nothing more than her wickedly charming storytelling and impeccable delivery. Telling tales from performing Shakespeare on a trampoline to her father's untimely death on the first day of vacation to a memorable encounter with a foreign waiter, the self-proclaimed drama queen easily holds both a flute of bubbly and her audience in the palm of her hand.

My Fabulous Gay Wedding

Global, 10 p.m.

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Who better to follow a drama queen than a wedding fairy, especially if the mischievous marriage minder is also a bit of a queen. Comedian Scott Thompson romps through his role as host of this new six-part reality series. With just two weeks to pull off each gay or lesbian couple's dream ceremony, he snoops through their homes and lives for themes to carry the big day and then leaves the real work to a team of experts. Naturally, things don't always go smoothly, but what sets this locally made show apart are unusually heightened prewedding jitters. Some families are thrilled to attend the nuptials while others make every effort to thwart the couple's happiness. Expect plenty of tears.

THURSDAY

The Nature of Things:

Being Caribou

CBC, 7 p.m.

Speaking in 2001, in support of gas and oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a smirking President Bush said: "I think it's important for us to open up ANWR . . . I would urge you all to travel up there and take a look at it, and you can make the determination as to how beautiful that country is." Well, a couple of Canadians took up the U.S. president's sarcastic suggestion. After all, it's Canada's caribou that for thousands of years have been migrating to the area to give birth to their calves. For five months, Leanne Allison and Karsten Heuer followed that migration on foot. And they had a hitchhiker: an action figure Dubya doll. What they bring back is a funny story of a personal adventure -- they were newlyweds -- and a rare record of the fragile and fierce beauty of the northern expanse and its wildlife. But will Bush appreciate what they show him? The feature length doc concludes next Thursday.

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Also:

The Movie Network has Empire Falls (Sunday and Monday, 9 p.m.), adapted from Richard Russo's Pulitzer prize-wining novel. Directed by Fred Schepisi, the HBO miniseries stars Ed Harris, Paul Newman, Helen Hunt and Joanne Woodward.

hwalmark@globeandmail.ca

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