PBS goes inside Mecca

"Inside Mecca" on "National Geographic Specials" (7 p.m., PBS) affords viewers a peek at a city and an annual event forbidden to non-Muslims. Filmed by an all-Muslim crew, "Inside Mecca" follows three of the faithful as they make the pilgrimage, or "Hajj," to the sacred city.

Islam requires that all believers try to visit Mecca once in their lifetime to praise Allah, ask forgiveness for their sins, and rededicate their lives to Allah through a series of rites and rituals.

While the Hajj is a deeply personal journey, it's one you must share with upward of 2 million fellow believers. This makes the Hajj a logistical burden for its Saudi hosts. One Mecca official admits that his city is forever preparing for, or recovering from, the annual gathering. He likens it to dozens of Super Bowls happening at the same time in the same stadium with all of the attendees taking part in the game.

If you are curious about the Muslim culture, interested in the varieties of religious experience or just want to learn the secrets of a forbidden city, don't miss "Inside Mecca."

  • Legendary producer Robert Evans lends his voice and image to the new cartoon "Kid Notorious" (9:30 p.m., Comedy Central). Evans plays himself, a famous producer with an audacious sense of the possible and a bizarre speaking style.

"Notorious" goes out of its way to offend in every scene. It should prove popular with fans of "South Park" (9 p.m., Comedy Central). Like that cartoon, "Notorious" relies on shock value and an odd juxtaposition of pop-cultural references. In the first episode, Evans gets back at Sharon Stone by opening his own Broadway play, a hip-hop version of "The Godfather." It sounds funnier than it is.

Tonight's other highlights

  • A father and son tangle in court on "Ed" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Game 4 of the World Series (7 p.m., Fox).
  • Visions of a troubled neighbor haunt Clark on "Smallville" (7 p.m., WB). R.E.M. provides the soundtrack for the entire episode.
  • Doug keeps a vital secret from Deacon on "King of Queens" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • A North Korean piano virtuoso wants to defect on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC). Postponed from last week.
  • A local teen vanishes on "The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire" (9 p.m., CBS).

Late night

Ben Stiller and Elvis Costello appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Catherine Zeta-Jones, Howard Dean and Lyle Lovett on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).


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