What was the most historic and culturally important event of 1969? You could say Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon. Some may argue for the Woodstock music festival. Others have a soft spot for the World Series triumph of the perennial doormat New York Mets.
But a serious case could be made for the debut of an educational series called "Sesame Street" (PBS Kids, check local listings) that premiered Nov. 10, 1969, and enters its 39th season today.
For nearly four decades, "Sesame Street" has used the power of television and the razzle-dazzle of advertising to teach kids letters, numbers, reading and spelling.
This season introduces a new Indian-American character named Leela to the cast and will concentrate more on math literacy.
"Sesame Street" has long featured celebrity guest spots, and this season is no exception. Look for Jack Black and Feist on today's show, and Neil Patrick Harris (Tuesday), Heidi Klum (Thursday) and Jenny McCarthy (Friday). World-famous soccer star David Beckham appears on Aug. 22.
¢ Another cultural event of 1969 involved Elvis Presley's return to live performance. The King signed a long-term deal with the International Hotel and became a must-see act for most of his remaining years. The 2007 special "Elvis: Viva Las Vegas" (7 p.m., CMT) celebrates Elvis Presley's years as an entertainer in the desert gambling mecca. A constellation of musical stars performs Presley's hits, including Toby Keith, Faith Hill, Chris Isaak, Chris Daughtry and Celine Dion.
Considering the fact that Presley's sojourn in Las Vegas coincided with years of drug addiction, delusional behavior, obesity and early death, I'm not sure that the word "Viva" really belongs in the title.
¢ Comic actress Jennifer Coolidge ("Best in Show," "American Pie") guest stars as a car dealer's wife caught up in a police sting on "The Closer" (8 p.m., TNT).
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Scheduled Summer Olympic events (7 p.m., NBC) include men's gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball and diving.
¢ Michael's plans unravel on "Prison Break" (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ "Top Gear" (7 p.m., BBC America) tests an Aston Martin and Jaguar and compares a Porsche to a Mercedes.
¢ Sarah asks an old friend for a favor on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (8 p.m., Fox).
¢ "History Detectives" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) investigates the legends behind a WWII artillery shell, a glass linked to Adm. George Dewey and a house associated with the French and Indian War.
¢ Scheduled on two episodes of "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" (Travel), Brazil (8 p.m.), Tokyo (9 p.m.).
¢ Weddings can be murder on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Frozen stiff on "The Middleman" (9 p.m., Family).
¢ Grace's car becomes a cash cache on "Saving Grace" (9 p.m., TNT).
A petty thief stumbles upon a nest of communist agents in the 1953 Cold War thriller "Pick Up on South Street" (7 p.m., TCM), directed by Sam Fuller and part of a 24-hour salute to the late Richard Widmark.