Mothers, we are told, are pulled in many directions. Stay home and take care of the kids? Or pursue a career and raise children at the same time? The fantasy/reality series "The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom" (9 p.m., TLC) allows some stay-at-home-mothers to secretly return to the careers they left behind.
In the episode made available for review, a sensible wife and mother of three high-spirited young girls returns to the high-strung world of fashion design. Her husband, a doctor, thinks she's won a spa vacation. He has no idea that she's secretly meeting with host Tracey Gold ("Growing Pains") in a black truck tricked out like a high-tech command center and being driven to her top-secret job. The truck and its spylike surveillance equipment allow her to keep tabs on her husband as he tries to keep the kids alive and the house in good order.
The show has obvious appeal to viewers with worries of their own about career opportunities and chances for self-expression they left behind. During the climactic "reveal" at the end of the first episode, the doting husband expresses great pride in his wife's achievements as a secret fashion designer and tells her that a missing aspect of the woman he married has come back to life. It's not clear whether all of the husbands on "Secret Life" will be so encouraging. At the end of the show, our subject is offered a dream job. Will she take this shot and leave soccer-momdom behind?
¢ Science presents "Download: The True Story of the Internet" (8 p.m., Science), hosted by John Heilemann, a journalist who has covered Silicon Valley for decades.
"Download" begins with "Browser Wars," an entertaining look back at the mid-1990s, when a group of upstart engineers and a company named Netscape threatened the supremacy of industry leader Microsoft.
"Wars" covers the meteoric rise of Netscape and Microsoft's tenacious response with Explorer, a browser that rapidly became the industry standard. The war would culminate in a prolonged antitrust case that, Heilemann argues, humiliated and chastened Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. A second hour of "Search" (9 p.m.) follows. Two more installments of "Download" will air next Tuesday.
¢ Barbara Walters hosts "20/20: The Royal Family" (7 p.m., ABC), a look at a year behind the walls of Buckingham Palace.
¢ Norma Shearer stars in the scandalous 1930 melodrama "The Divorcee" (7 p.m., TCM), a film that earned her an Oscar and a personal rebuke from the Catholic Church. This kicks off a five-film marathon of movies made before the adoption of the Hollywood Code, which outlined what was morally acceptable for movies in the United States.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Starting with "Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project" (7 p.m., Sundance), Sundance will devote two hours every night this week to documentaries about photographers.
¢ John stands up for his mother on a two-hour season finale of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ Paul discusses fantasy and reality with Laura on "In Treatment" (8:30 p.m., HBO).
¢ Gregory Itzin ("24") guest stars as a politician at the center of a horrific vision on "Medium" (9 p.m., NBC).
¢ The death of an old pal sends the gang reeling on "October Road" (9 p.m., ABC).
¢ "My Name Is Earl" (9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., TBS) will air on cable every Monday night.