HBO’s epic miniseries “The Pacific” looks back at the valor and sacrifice of U.S. Marines during World War II. Viewers in search of more contemporary view of the Corps. should check out “U.S. Marines: First to Fight” (7 p.m. Saturday, Military Channel), an up-close look at the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as they prepare for their next deployment.
As a rule, an MEU is stationed aboard a fleet of three Navy ships, ready to be dispatched to a trouble spot at a moment’s notice. They may be called upon to raid a hostile camp in a war zone or deliver food and medical supplies to a disaster area. This two-hour special puts emphasis on individual Marines, their arduous preparation routines and the weapons, vehicles and aircraft required for their missions.
• Eddie Cibrian stars in the made-for-television romance “Healing Hands” (8 p.m. Saturday, Hallmark). He’s Buddy, a directionless regular guy who lives over his parents’ (Meagen Fay and Patrick Duffy) garage.
But after an accident sends him into a coma, he awakens with the healing power of touch. But his recuperative capacity comes at a price to his own well-being, forcing Buddy to question the meaning of his gift and the value of his own life. Look for Cibrian’s “Invasion” co-star Lisa Sheridan as Buddy’s fiancee, a woman who put up with him even before he developed magic fingers.
• Life! Imagine the alternative. The 11-part nature series “Life” (7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, Discover) is sure to make some viewers happy that they bought a great big high-definition television. Filled with remarkable photography of critters of every size and stripe, “Life” hopes to redefine the nature documentary with one “how did they get that?” shot after another. Wanna see an iguana spear a preying mantis with its tongue? “Life” has it, narrated by Oprah Winfrey, and in 1080p, to boot. Or is that 720p? Wake me up when you can find anybody who can tell the difference.
“Life” divides itself into categories, much like the sciences of botany and zoology. We begin with “Challenges of Life” (7 p.m.), a glance at the eat-or-be-eaten struggle to survive, endure and (not to get too controversial) evolve on a planet that is both abundant with life and remarkably cruel. Then we move on to more defined chapters like “Reptiles & Amphibians” (8 p.m.), to be followed with installments on “Mammals,” “Primates,” etc., running every Sunday night through April 18.
• Reality “stars” come in two varieties. First there are formerly unknown humans who have become famous through reality TV (Richard Hatch, Snookie, Jon and Kate, the Teutels, everyone ever cast on “The Real World,” etc.). The second and less satisfying variation involves the formerly famous who hope to retain some semblance of celebrity through reality exposure. “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life” (9 p.m. Sunday, A&E;) falls into this second, sadder category and becomes a natural bookend to the fifth-season opener of “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” (8 p.m. Sunday, A&E;).
Like most of these affairs, Alley spends a great deal of time with hired servants who pass as friends. When seen with her teenaged children, she’s often discussing her weight or the stalking hoards of tabloid photographers.
These conversations never address the most obvious contradiction of “Big Life.” If Alley really wants to get out the taunting spotlight, why is she appearing on a reality TV show? A pointless, pathetic and frequently boring one at that.
Tonight’s other highlights
• The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (6 p.m., CBS) continues.
• “FlashForward” (7 p.m., ABC) offers viewers a two-hour clip-show retrospective.
• Abby’s group goes into seclusion on the season 1 finale of “Survivors” (8 p.m., BBC America).
• Gina Holden stars in the 2009 shocker “Screamers: The Hunting” (8 p.m., Syfy).
• Scheduled on “48 Hours Mystery” (9 p.m., CBS): a coed falls under suspicion.
• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): an orphanage in Haiti; identical twins who dominate the Tennis doubles circuit; an interview with Rahm Emanuel.
• Budget constraints force Bart to share a desk with a girl (Sarah Silverman) on “The Simpsons” (7 p.m., Fox).
• The grim action on Guadalcanal goes on for months on “The Pacific” (8 p.m., HBO).
• Vera vanishes on “Cold Case” (9 p.m., CBS).
• A famous British chef tries to transform the eating habits of an American city on “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (9 p.m., ABC).
• Walter sifts through the debris on the third-season premiere of “Breaking Bad” (9 p.m., AMC).
• A Garden State salon vies for attention in the 8-part series “Jerseylicious” (9 p.m., Style).