Feature: Watch It!

Watch It!: Conan on Conan, Maggie Gyllenhaal on Sex, and BBC's New Retro Show

Highlights of TV offerings for the week ahead.

By , Columist

© Kudos Film & Television Ltd

Dominic West from The Wire stars in BBC America's The Hour.

The London riots were the topic at the British House of Commons session, C-SPAN’s liveliest programming, with Prime Minister Cameron facing off with opposition leader Miliband. It’s the kind of programming one easily misses among the glut of offerings, like The Great Food Truck Race which pulled up to the curb at the Food Network. It follows a coast-to-coast culinary contest focused on the phenom of gourmet food vehicles. (If you missed it, check out a repeat on Wednesday at 11 pm.)

Here are some highlights upcoming this week - from the silly (Hair Battles) to the sublime (White Stripes doc) and BBC America’s "Dramaville" drama, The Hour.

Monday 8/15

Gloria: In Her Own Words at 9 pm on HBO.

A portrait of Gloria Steinem, pioneering feminist, journalist, founder of Ms. magazine and political activist by documentary filmmaker Peter Kunhardt.

Hair Battle Spectacular premieres at 10 pm on Oxygen.

From handbags to animals, outlandish styles are conjured by outlandish designers in the second season in this hair-raising show.

Tuesday 8/16

Downsized season premiere at 9 pm on WE.

Just in time, the Bruce-Rumsey family offer DIY frugal money-saving tips on how they managed to get out of debt and stay afloat. Perhaps Congress could pay attention.

The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights at 8pm on Showtime’s Showcase. Filmmaker Emmett Malloy (Jack Johnson’s manager) followed Jack White and drummer Meg White on tour in Canada for what ended up to be their final performances.

Wednesday 8/17

The Hour premiere at 10 pm on BBC America.

Starring The Wire’s Dominic West, The Hour is an edgy spy thriller set in the world of TV journalism, circa 1956, part of the Mad Men trend of retro-chic shows. Hosted by Emmy nom Idris Elba and preceded at 9 pm by Law & Order: UK.

Thursday 8/18

Russian Dolls at 10:30 pm on Lifetime.

Touted as the Russian Jersey Shore, this docu-series covers Brooklyn's Brighton Beach ‘hood, following a mix of both women and men, families and heritage.

Prostitution: Leaving the Life at 9 pm on OWN.

Three former sex workers work with female inmates in Chicago's Cook County Jail.

Do Something Good Awards on VH1 at 9 pm.

Foster the People perform and a long list of starry presenters give awards to do-good celebs and folks supporting fave causes. Hosted by Jane Lynch, warming up for her Emmy duties.  

Friday 8/19

Tanked  at 9 pm on Animal Planet.

Not to be confused with Shark Tank on ABC, Tanked features humungous aquariums built for weird fish. (What next? Now we’re dredging up reality show ideas.)

Saturday 8/20

Gymnastics: Visa Championships from 8-10:30 pm on NBC.

Gearing up for 2012 Summer London Olympics, the US Nationals do vaults, bar routines, and tumbling passes live from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Sunday 8/21

Curiosity at 8 pm on PBS.

“Why Is Sex Fun?” Maggie Gyllenhaal hosts a revealing investigation into the mechanics and chemistry of female orgasm. Followed by Science of Lust at 9 pm and Anatomy of Sex at 10 pm - after that, it's up to you.

See Conan on Conan. On Tuesday, August 16, the new Conan (the Barbarian) Jason Momoa, from the upcoming reboot of the old Schwarzenegger movie opening this weekend, will guest on Conan O’Brien’s show on TBS at 11 pm. With George Lopez’s show just canceled from TBS, watch and make sure Conan isn't next.

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Roberta Cruger has written for Salon, The Believer, the LA Times magazine, and more. She was the founding media editor of Creem magazine and a member of MTV’s original programming team. Based in LA, she covers the green carpet for Treehugger and entertainment as US correspondent for the AFP’s RelaxNews.

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