Here comes the sun king

Here comes the sun king

Having tackled "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" (7 p.m., r, History), History takes on "The Universe" (9 p.m.), a multipart series on the moon, the stars and the sun.

In fact, the series kicks off with "Secrets of the Sun." She may be the center of our solar system and the giver of light and heat, but by the standards of the universe, she's just a yellow dwarf.

Using computer graphics and expert commentary, the documentary explains the Earth's Goldilocks relationship with our nearest star. We're not too close and not too far. A distance of 93 million miles is "just right" to support life.

It's not safe to be too close to a giant orb of hydrogen fusion, erupting in thousands of H-bomb explosions every second. The light particles that reach Earth begin with violent reactions at the center of the sun. It takes them thousands of years to reach the surface of the sun and then make their trip to Earth. So the light that shines on us today may be older than recorded human history. Something to ponder while broiling on the beach.

Over the course of the summer, every Tuesday through Aug. 28, "The Universe" takes viewers from Mars to beyond the Big Bang. Cosmic stuff, indeed.

"Independent Lens" (9 p.m., PBS) gives viewers a chance to catch the 2005 documentary "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," the story of a homeless street musician who grows enchanted by the sudden presence of exotic birds that seem to bring order and meaning to his life.

"Wild Parrots" received rave reviews, reducing cranky critics to words and phrases like "beguiling," "warm and tender," "great, important and unforgettable," "beautiful and endearing" and "well-considered, beautifully made and often gripping." You get the picture.

Film Threat magazine gushed, "This is an excellent movie — by all means flock to it."

TV-themed DVDs available today include Season 2 of "The Closer" starring Kyra Sedgwick and Jon Tenney. Also being released is "One Punk Under God," about the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, which was shown on the Sundance Channel.

Three would-be directors get the hook on "On the Lot" (8 p.m., Fox). Lorelai's love hangover on "Gilmore Girls" (8 p.m., CW, r, TV-PG). Refugees travel far to consult House as Forman packs his bags on the season finale of "House" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14). Fans of "Deadliest Catch" (9 p.m., Discovery) can stick around for "After the Catch" (10 p.m., Discovery), a more in-depth look at this dangerous job. "Flashpoint" focuses on a roadside bombing in Iraq and the lives changed in a single moment (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14). Katie Couric hosts. Denny ventures just this side of patricide on the season finale of "Boston Legal" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14). The San Marcos murders remain unsolved on "The Shield" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).

Personalities clash and fuse when two Texas natives (Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek) encounter an enigmatic artist at a California motel court in director Robert Altman's baffling, quirky and atmospheric 1977 drama "3 Women" (8 p.m., Fox Movie Channel).

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Halle Berry and Zach Johnson appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Will Ferrell, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Paolo Nutini on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Matthew Fox and Kelly Clarkson appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (12:05 a.m., ABC, r) ... Dr. Phil, Emily Deschanel and Calexico are booked on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (12:35 a.m., NBC) ... Craig Ferguson hosts Lance Burton, Matt Serra and Chantal Kreviazuk on "The Late Late Show" (12:37 a.m., CBS).

Kevin McDonough, a syndicated columnist who lives in Narrowsburg, can be reached at