By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service
"The West Wing," 8 p.m., NBC. This terrific show has never claimed to be a portrait of real-life White House politics. "We are absolute fiction," says Thomas Schlamme, who is one of the producers and the main director. "What we care about are the emotions." Now the show pauses to capture real emotions with a documentary. It has interviews with people who have worked in the White House and places their comments alongside "West Wing" scenes. Three ex-presidents Ford, Carter and Clinton were interviewed. Many of their aides are also interviewed. "Henry Kissinger told us that it's very difficult to tell people in power something they don't want to hear," Schlamme says. Still, Schlamme didn't emerge with Watergate-type cynicism. "Our characters bring an absolute passion for their work," he says. "That's the same thing we found when we interviewed people."
"Ed," 7 p.m., NBC. Ed and Carol are shocked when the principal doesn't want a disadvantaged student on his "Quizbowl" team. Also, Phil wants to bring boxing to the Stuckeybowl.
"Survivor: Marquesas," 7 p.m., CBS. With half the contestants now gone, it's time for a 1-hour recap. Unlike previous years there will still be a new episode Thursday.
"Bernie Mac," 8 p.m., Fox. In this rerun, Vanessa is put in charge of her brother and sister. She doesn't have much time, however, because she's on the gymnastics team.
"America's First River: Moyers on the Hudson" conclusion, 9 p.m., PBS. In its early days, the Hudson River symbolized pure, natural beauty. Later, photographer Seneca Stoddard called it "a foul, malarial-breeding pit." Then the comeback began, including the creation of the Adirondack Forest Preserve in 1885. Environmental issues still rage but this documentary includes author Bill McKibben calling the preserve a "great example of ecosystem restoration on this planet."