To tell the truth, nonfiction's a winner

There's a way, by flipping channels, to get a night full of fine nonfiction television. Start with "TV Nation" on NBC, switch to a newly packaged version of the Richard Nixon/David Frost interviews on the Disney Channel, then join HBO's "Gang War" documentary in progress.

* "TV Nation" (8-9 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- I love this show, and much of what I love about it is its dizzying variety. Tonight, for example, Michael Moore goes on a picnic with Dr. Jack Kevorkian, while another correspondent accompanies a door-to-door beauty-products saleswoman in the rain forests of Brazil. I don't know how you can not watch a series like this -- but according to the Nielsen ratings, it's not only possible, but probable. Sigh. NBC.


* "The John Larroquette Show" (9-9:30 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- This episode, as much as any all season, showed the clearest links between this comedy and "Barney Miller." Nighttime antics and weirdos abound -- as do laughs. NBC repeat.

* "Ellen" (9:30-10 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Completing its preseason overhaul of "These Friends of Mine," which already has been retitled "Ellen" in repeats, ABC tonight moves the series to the time slot it will occupy this fall: after "Roseanne" and preceding "NYPD Blue." Tonight's episode, by the way, is the original pilot; next month, most of These Friends of Hers will be gone from the show. ABC repeat.


* "Dateline NBC" (10-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Larry King already got his shot, but tonight Jane Pauley begins a two-part interview with Michael Fay. NBC.

* "NYPD Blue" (10-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- This episode gave a lot of air time, and good material, to its supporting players, especially Gordon Clapp as Medavoy and Nicholas Turturro as Martinez, whose characters are involved in a shooting incident. ABC repeat.


* "The Nixon Interviews With David Frost: 1994 Special Edition" (9-10:35 p.m., Disney) -- For the month of August, the Disney Channel reserves this time to replay Frost's full 1977 interviews with Nixon, as well as excerpts from the nearly 20 hours of unused footage.

* "Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock" (10:15-11:20 p.m., HBO) -- This "American Undercover" documentary captures images, language and conflicts more common to TV studies of inner-city urban areas -- but in this local study, it provides one true-life character, a coroner, who's a true role model and hero.