A sweet, short documentary that makes the most of the touching immediacy of home video footage, "One Strong Arm" (9:30 p.m., A&E) will have some viewers reaching for a hanky or two. Cody Wagner was stricken with a brain tumor and a series of strokes when he was only 18 months old. To his father, a tragedy of that magnitude was something that happened to other people. When Cody was released from the hospital, Cody's mother was told in no uncertain terms that she was taking her boy home to die.
The strokes left Cody paralyzed on one side of his body, but he did not die. Instead, he grew up strong, alert and personable in spite of a severe speech impediment. Cody's dad admits to always wanting a son to play with and roughhouse. And this boyish camaraderie between father and son becomes the heart of this story.
Cody's partial paralysis often requires that he use his one good arm to scoot himself along the floor. As a result, his left arm becomes remarkably strong. After watching the 1987 Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling movie "Over the Top," Cody becomes obsessed with the sport. "One Strong Arm" follows 18-year-old Cody to his first arm-wrestling competition, where he faces an able-bodied opponent in his own weight class.
Tonight's other highlights
- Filmmaker Wim Wenders chronicles the reunion of Cuban musicians in the 1999 documentary "Buena Vista Social Club" (6:15 p.m., Independent Film Channel).
- "Survivor" (7 p.m., CBS) airs one night early to make way for tomorrow's coverage of the NCAA Tournament.
- A found briefcase dredges up secrets from Kate's past on "Lost" (7 p.m., ABC).
- Bartlet mulls a change in Cuba policy on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).
- The votes are tallied on "American Idol" (8 p.m., Fox).
- Vaughn learns more nasty truths about his dad on "Alias" (8 p.m., ABC).
- Murder stalks the dog show circuit on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS).
- A drug firm's cure may be worse than the illness on "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).