TV Lookout: highlights for week of June 29-July 5 |

TV Lookout: highlights for week of June 29-July 5

AP Television Writer

With current economic woes and so many layoffs, anybody lucky enough to be employed is happy to put in a full workday and justify that paycheck.

Even four working stiffs like Chase, Gus, Smitty and Gary. They may not be the most productive guys on the job, but they work hard pretending.

The blue-collar heroes of the new Spike TV comedy “Factory” view their eight-hour shift at a small-town, small-time factory as a pleasant place to hang together ” and a welcome break from home life.

Sure, the job brings certain challenges with it. Like making sense of the death of a 35-year factory veteran sucked into a machine by his necktie.

“Everybody knows you don’t go near a pneumatic bander with a tie on,” says Smitty.

But Chase is reflective: “Guy works here 35 years and it’s chomp chomp jerk jerk squirt. THAT’S how God calls you?

And there’s the occasional drug test, which really gets these guys’ goat: Cups are for DRINKING!

But generally there’s real job satisfaction, as voiced by the guys at a local grade school Career Day.

“Sometimes you go home and it feels like THAT’S where you’re punching in, and putting in your hours,” they tell the kids. “And then you wake up in the morning and get to go back to the factory.”

Then a kid asks, “Do you ever get to do anything interesting, or do you ever get to travel? Or do you just do the same thing every day?”

Find out for yourself when this loosely scripted half-hour series premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. Starring Michael Coleman, Jay Leggett, David Pasquesi and Mitch Rouse (a co-creator of the Comedy Central cult fave “Strangers With Candy”), it’s a fun show.

And it sure beats working.

Other shows to look out for:

– The conventional view of the 20th century traces a terrible trail of wars involving the United States. Historian Niall Ferguson sees this stretch of recurring violence as a single, unrelenting “war of the world” that began with Japan’s invasion of Russia in 1904, continuing through World War II and the Korean War all the way to what he dubs an ongoing “Third World’s War.” Ferguson is the host of the three-part PBS series “The War of the World,” which explores the notion that such a new broad-based conflict could replay itself in the 21st century. Episode one, “The Clash of Empires,” proposes that economic volatility, ethnic conflict and empires in crisis combined to spawn the bloody conflicts of the past century, leading to the rise of the brutal regimes of Germany, Japan and Russia. The second episode cites the horrors of World War II to show how, in order to win, the Allies acted with the same savagery as their enemies, thus attaining “a tainted victory.” Part three describes the Cold War as a continuation of the “war of the world,” while the end of the Cold War led to new dangers and challenges ” and an eastward shift in the balance of power that may start the whole process over again. The series begins Monday at 10 p.m.

– One-time teen sensation Molly Ringwald is back ” as the mom of a teen ” in a new ABC Family series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” This family drama tells the story of Amy (Shailene Woodley, “The O.C.”), who discovers she is pregnant after having had sex for the first time while away at summer band camp. At first, Amy is afraid to tell her mom (played by Ringwald, “The Breakfast Club”) and depends on her two best friends for support. Further complicating her life, she is pursued by a smitten classmate who has no idea she is expecting. What will happen when everybody knows? John Schneider (“Smallville”) and Josie Bissett (“Melrose Place”) guest star. The series, created by Brenda Hampton (“7th Heaven”), premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m.

– Last summer, six rare mountain gorillas were found shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park. Who was responsible for the senseless killing of these creatures? National Geographic Channel’s “Explorer: Gorilla Murders” investigates, unraveling a web of corruption in the park as it examines the charges brought against the man accused of the crimes ” the park’s former chief warden. But Virunga National Park and its endangered primate residents remain caught in a deadly crossfire between militia groups and the Congolese Army, a bloody conflict heightened by the pressures of a surging refugee population and an illegal charcoal trade devastating the park and further threatening the gorillas’ lives. Is any hope in sight? The one-hour documentary airs Tuesday at 10 p.m.

– It’s Good vs. Evil in “A Gunfighter’s Pledge,” a good old-fashioned Western adventure starring Luke Perry on the Hallmark Channel. Perry (“John From Cincinnati”) plays a former sheriff, Matt Austin, who’s seeking vengeance from a vicious outlaw named Tate, who murdered Austin’s wife and child. But after tracking the villain to a saloon and accidentally killing an innocent man in the inevitable shootout, Austin promises the dying man that his body will be returned to his sister at the family farm. Then, on arriving there, Austin is drawn into a dispute between the woman and a black-hearted businessman bent on forcing her to sell him her property. And ” small world! ” this businessman has hired Tate as a member of his gang charged with removing the woman from her land. With Austin and Tate itching to settle their scores, this isn’t gonna end peacefully. The film airs Saturday at 9 p.m.