Two good geography lessons -- about the American West and Africa's river Nile -- compete on broadcast and cable in a night that also brings back "Columbo."
* "The American Experience: The Way West" (8 p.m.-11 p.m., MPT, channels 22, 67) -- The first of a two-part series from producer Ric Burns (brother of Ken of "Baseball" and "The Civil War" fame) features a couple of local links: narrator Russell Baker, who grew up in Baltimore and who began his career at The Sun, and Goucher College history professor Julie Jeffrey, who is interviewed for her expertise in the female experience of the old frontier. PBS.
* "Turning Point" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Barbara Walters anchors a returning edition of the periodic series, as correspondent Meredith Vieira reports its principal story: a look at some of America's most gifted children. ABC.
* "Star Trek: Voyager" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WNUV, Channel 54) -- Here's a clever twist on a well-remembered episode of the original series, when the good and bad sides of Kirk's (William Shatner) personality became separate characters. B'Ellana (Roxann Biggs-Dawson) suffers a similar fate, but her dual personalities are Klingon and human. UPN.
* "The Nanny" (8 p.m.-8:30 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Do they or don't they? That's the question as Fran (Fran Drescher) winds up in Maxwell's (Charles Shaughnessy) bed after a tipsy party. Tyne Daly ("Cagney & Lacey") makes a guest appearance. CBS.
* "Columbo: Strange Bedfellows" (9 p.m.-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Peter Falk brings his disheveled detective back for a case involving a menacing mob leader (Rod Steiger) and an unethical horse breeder (George Wendt). ABC.
* "Virus" (9 p.m.-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- With "Outbreak" at the movies and recent plot lines of "X-Files" and "Chicago Hope" on TV, the germs may be winning! Based on a Robin Cook best seller, the movie "Virus" features Nicollette Sheridan and William DeVane as doctors trying to curb a virulent disease in Los Angeles. NBC.
* "Murphy Brown" (9 p.m.-9:30 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Supermodel Vendela makes a guest appearance as a ploy by Miles (Grant Shaud) to make Corky (Faith Ford) jealous. The plot is billed as setting up next week's season finale. CBS.
* "Nile: River of Gods" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., The Discovery Channel) -- Ancient human culture stretches 4,000 miles into Africa along the Nile, and this documentary, with F. Murray Abraham narrating, explores the environments and people found there.