Channing lends voice to ‘Meerkat Manor’

Given the option of watching either a tale of sad-eyed critters involved in a death struggle in the desert or a bubblegum-colored movie about precocious ‘tweens with an agenda, my choice is clear: Get me to the Kalahari!

“Meerkat Manor: The Next Generation” (8 p.m., Animal Planet) follows the meerkat mob (as groups of meerkats are known) the Whiskers as they try to reform their society in the wake of the death of their matriarch, the beloved and much feared Flower.

Flower’s daughter Rocket Dog took the reins of power after a struggle for leadership of the Whiskers. But her sister and rival Maybelline would not submit. Instead, she founded a rival mob, the Aztecs.

In season 3, the meerkats will discover the price of a mob divided. The desert is harsh enough without a civil war. And predators abound.

This season of fractional strife also brings a new narrator to “Manor,” an authoritative voice from an actress who is no stranger to bare-knuckled politics and court intrigue. Stockard Channing is probably best known to viewers as the first lady on “The West Wing.”

¢ The popular series “The Naked Brothers Band” (7 p.m., Nickelodeon) expands to a movie-length episode tonight when the band members take time from their usual shenanigans and their slick, flawless performances to watch the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Inspired by its message, they decide to try to save polar bears. Tonight’s “Brothers” includes four songs from the band’s second album, “I Don’t Want to Go to School.”

I know kids love this stuff, but I suggest that baby sitters who have to sit through “Naked Brothers Band” deserve time-and-a-half compensation.

¢ The network best known for diverting lists teams up with Forbes to present “Top 20 Young Royals.” (8 p.m., E!). We’ve been assured that this is not merely a checklist of the richest royals but an evaluation of the sceptered set based on their press clippings and their recognition beyond the borders of their domains.

“Royals” speaks with princes from places as far away as Swaziland and Dubai, but it keeps the accent on $800,000 birthday parties and the casual accumulation of diamonds and other baubles. Exactly the kind of “let them eat cake” behavior that has been inspiring breathless inside accounts (and regicidal revolutions) for centuries.

Tonight’s other highlights

¢ On two episodes of “Ghost Whisperer” (CBS), in dreams (7 p.m.), fired up from beyond the grave (8 p.m.) .

¢ Shawn and Marlon Wayans cross boundaries of race, gender and taste in the 2004 comedy “White Chicks” (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ An explosion knocks a private eye into a parallel dimension in the new series “Charlie Jade” (7 p.m., Sci Fi).

¢ A groomer’s angry clients put a bite on business on “The Dog Whisperer” (7 p.m., National Geographic).

¢ Still in Siberia on “Man vs. Wild” (8 p.m., Discovery).

¢ A teacher becomes a fugitive on “Numb3rs” (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Scheduled on “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC): crime and punishment.

¢ Viper pilots and Cylon rebels take on the Hub on “Battlestar Galactica” (9 p.m., Sci Fi).