"American Masters" (8 p.m., PBS) opens a new season with "Bob Dylan: No Direction Home," a two-part documentary directed by Martin Scorsese.
More than a biography of Dylan, "No Direction" explores all of the social, musical and political trends that converged in the first half of the 1960s in the folk-rock scene. Scorsese blends recent interviews with Dylan and his contemporaries with a wealth of archival footage, much of it never before seen.
Bob Dylan offers a surprisingly calm and lucid glance at his back pages. This stands in stark contrast to a lifetime of difficult interviews and cryptic fabrications about his past. "No Direction" does a wonderful job of sifting through the artist's contradictory myths and acts of self-invention. But even the elder Dylan can't resist resorting to legend polishing, comparing himself to guitarist Robert Johnson, who claimed to have acquired a wealth of talent in a short span of months after selling his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads.
An essential addition to any rock and pop-music history, "No Direction" explains how Dylan was inspired by the Beat writers, including Jack Kerouac and poet Allen Ginsberg (seen here in archival interviews), as well as the social-activist folk music of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and The Weavers. "No Direction" shows how quickly the folk scene became a show-business commodity and how Dylan's manager packaged the group Peter, Paul and Mary as the New Kids on the Block of their time.
Tonight's segment ends with Dylan's triumphant reception at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival of 1963. Part two airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ In search of a beached leviathan on "Surface" (7 p.m., NBC).
¢ Bogus chips on "Las Vegas" (8 p.m., NBC).
¢ Lincoln's execution date may be moved up on "Prison Break" (8 p.m., Fox).
¢ Denver plays host to Kansas City on "Monday Night Football" (8 p.m., ABC).