OVA" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) lifts the veil off our most secret weapon -- just slightly.
"Rise of the Drones" examines the inventors and pilots behind the unmanned aircraft that have been an essential -- and largely clandestine -- part of American espionage and warfare since 2001. We meet inventor Abe Karem, known as the "Father of the Predator" drone. He spent the better part of the 1980s developing prototypes in his garage for the unmanned planes that would develop into today's drones.
He had the vision to see the lack of a pilot and the weight of a human passenger opened up new avenues of aircraft design. His inventions were both high-tech and old-school. In one, he retrofitted an old go-kart engine to give his light, high-flying plane remarkable fuel economy.
From the era of aerial combat above the trenches of World War I to the cinematic dogfights of "Top Gun," the emphasis has been on making jets faster and more powerful and agile. As a result, they have become hugely expensive and burn an extraordinary amount of fuel in a short time. Engineers are now working on drones that can stay aloft for days and weeks, or even longer. They're also shrinking the size of the aircraft, enabling unforeseen access to potential foes, foreign and domestic -- an ability many find troubling.
"Rise of the Drones" concentrates on the engineering, science and gadgetry of these weapons, or weaponized devices. It barely touches on the moral, legal or political consequences of their use.
---Over the next three weeks, "Nature" (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) will honor one of the towering figures in nature documentary filmmaking. "Atten borough's Life Stories" will allow 86-year-old David Attenborough to recall some of his
favorite and most famous films and footage, and to ruminate on the development of natural history filmmaking over the past half-century. Not only has camera technology been revolutionized in that period, but also his audience's appreciation and reverence for nature itself -- a change that Attenborough helped bring about.
---"American Horror Story" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA) wraps up its season in the asylum. This year's "Horror" has so often gone deliriously over the top, it's difficult to describe. I can't think of a more sick and disturbing TV drama ever made. And I mean that in the nicest way.
Jessica Lange and "Horror" will return for a third season. Lange is to "Horror" what Maggie Smith is to "Downton Abbey" -- indisputably great and Emmy bait to boot. But let's not forget this season's remarkable performance by Lily Rabe. Her turn as the shy, frightened and virginal Sister Mary Eunice McKee possessed by the devil himself was simply remarkable.
---Oliver contends with Diggle on "Arrow" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---Gloria's family descends on "Modern Family" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---"Lords of War" (9 p.m.,
National Geographic, TV-14) profiles collectors of military relics and memorabilia.
---Hodges is linked to a
gorgeous woman on "CSI" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
Real aliens mistake the cast of a canceled cult TV series (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman) for heroes in the delightful 1999 fantasy spoof "Galaxy Quest" (8:45 p.m., HBO Family).
---On two helpings of "Criminal Minds" (CBS, TV-14): motivation and murder (8 p.m., r), murder by the bay (9 p.m.).
---Old fibs divulged on "Whit ney" (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
---Frankie wants Mike to bond with the neighbors on "The Middle" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Marny would like a daughter for a change on "Guys With Kids" (8:30 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG).
---The last dance on "The Neighbors" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---A boy's kidnapping recalls an old case on "Law & Order: Spe cial Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
---Felicia returns on "Super- natural" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---George feels smothered on "Suburgatory" (9:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---A cover-up on "Chicago Fire" (10 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
---A record company party puts Juliette and her mother on the spot on "Nashville" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Missy Cummings is scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (11 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Jenna Elfman, Bobby Lee, Kerri Kenney-Silver and Dov Davidoff are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Sally Field sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Michael Strahan, Jessica Chastain and Conor Maynard appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r).
---Jay Leno welcomes Heidi Klum, Seann William Scott and Gary Allan on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Naomi Watts and Allison Williams appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Bradley Cooper and Wolfgang Puck on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.