On The Weekend Watch:
A VCR ALERT -- MPT is rerunning this fall's magnificent documentary series "The Civil War," beginning on Saturday. The schedule calls for Part 1 at 8 p.m. Saturday, Parts 2 through 5 beginning at the same hour Sunday and Parts 6 through 9 (the conclusion) at 8 p.m. Monday.
LOX OF LAUGHS -- A rabbi and a priest were riding on a train, see . . . Whoops, wouldn't want to spoil any punch lines of Friday's edition of "Great Performances" on Maryland Public Television. In "The World of Jewish Humor" (at 9 p.m. on channels 22 and 67), hosts Jack Carter, Jackie Mason, Jan Murray and Joan Rivers take viewers on a 90-minute tour from the world of Yiddish theater right through to "Saturday Night Live."
THE CABLE CONNECTION -- It is unconventional in the extreme: slow-moving, sometimes hard to understand because of thick accents and often subtle to the point of obscurity. But "Oranges Aren't the Only Fruit," a three-hour film premiering on the A&E network tonight (at 9), will reward patient viewers with something special. The elegantly photographed BBC production stars two remarkable actresses, Emily Aston and Charlotte Coleman, as first the 7-year-old and then 16-year-old Jess, an adopted girl growing up in a loony circle of religious zealots in Lancashire. Initially her best friend is an 80-year-old woman and her mother doesn't want her to go to school because "it's the devil's place." But the often hilarious drama stops short of making fun of these people and poignantly evokes, instead, every person's struggle to make connections in a lonely world. The film, which includes some unexpected sexual material and carries a viewers' discretion warning, was adapted by Jeanette Winterson from her novel based upon her own childhood.
THE MOVIE MARQUEE -- Some goodies are on the small screen in the coming days. First, at 8 tonight on Channel 13, comes the first seasonal sighting of "Miracle on 34th Street," the memorable 1947 version with Edmund Gwenn and a young Natalie Wood. Also tonight on cable's TBS (at 8:35) is Media Monitor's second favorite comedy ever: "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," Stanley Kubrick's 1963 homage to film humor history. (So what's the funniest film ever? The rarely seen on TV 1958 French film "Mon Oncle," directed by and starring the late Jacques Tati.) Back to broadcast, MPT is screening the 1937 "Captains Courageous" at 11 p.m. Friday (channels 22 and 67), with Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew. And finally that other holiday perennial, "It's a Wonderful Life," pops up on cable at 10:35 a.m. Sunday on TBS.