Just in time for Veterans Day, “Vietnam in HD” (8 p.m., History, nightly through Thursday) offers a six-hour history of that war. Culled from home movies and unseen hours of color film, the footage has been upgraded to high definition and is narrated by a cast of notable actors voicing the words and memories of men and women who were there.
We see Barry Romo as a young soldier in vintage footage. Then we see him as he is now. His recollections are presented in his own voice, which then gives way to a voice-over from actor Adrian Grenier (”Entourage”). It’s an effective technique, repeated for more than a dozen participants.
The restored footage and storytelling technique liberate the era from some of the cinematic clichés that have defined it over the decades. It’s also a counter-narrative to the hackneyed view of the 1960s as one long love-in. We’re reminded here that, at least in the beginning, the war was seen as a necessary burden and was popular, even among those facing the draft. Lost in many pop histories of the decade is that the No. 1 single for 1966 was “The Ballad of the Green Beret” by Sgt. Barry Sadler.
All the same, it’s impossible to enter this six-hour experience and not feel as if you’ve returned to a slow-motion nightmare. It’s hard to even hear phrases like “search and destroy,” ‘‘body count,” ‘‘Rolling Thunder,” “strategic hamlet,” ‘‘Vietnamization” and “Peace With Honor” without feeling a little queasy all over again.
‘‘History in HD” is an ambitious and honorable project well worth watching. But its very quality has become rare on the History Channel. How do you convince a young student that the events depicted in “HD” were real and had powerful consequences when it is broadcast by the same network that hypes “Ancient Aliens” and devotes hours to programs on zombies, vampires and other popular supernatural pap? I know I’ve become a bit of a nag on the subject of the History Channel. Get used to it.
TV-themed DVDs available today include “Mr. Magoo — The Television Collection (1960-77),” a collection of 11 DVDs from the era when laughing at the nearsighted was considered fun!
Tonight’s other highlights
• A chance to perform “West Side Story” on “Glee” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Jess’ best friend stays over on “New Girl” (8 p.m., Fox).
• Live performance and elimination on “Dancing With the Stars” (8 p.m., ABC).
• “Frontline” (8 p.m., PBS) examines Syria’s regime and its opponents.
• New camera technology joins the “Hunt for the Giant Squid” (8 p.m., National Geographic).
• Jimmy resents a younger rival on “Raising Hope” (8:30 p.m., Fox).
• A public defender’s murder may be part of a bigger scheme on “Unforgettable” (9 p.m., CBS).
• Amber has a realization on “Parenthood” (9 p.m., NBC).
• “In the Spotlight With Robin Roberts: All Access Nashville” (9 p.m., ABC) visits country music stars.