Monday October 6
Dutch Elm Palm Heights (USA Network, TV-PG) The parody, with stars from All My Children and Guiding Light, runs interstitially during USA’s Romance Week of TV movies.
Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS, TV-PG) After consoling Robert on the anniversary of his divorce, Ray fears he may have effected — gasp! — brotherly bonding.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (The WB, TV-PG) The Peruvian exchange student staying with Buffy turns out to be a murderous Incan mummy and the object of Xander’s attentions.
George & Leo (CBS, TV-PG) Wannabe sitter Leo attends a baby-care class and cajoles fellow soon-to-be granddad George into joining him.
Brooklyn South (CBS, TV-14-LV) In a plotline reminiscent of New York’s 1991 Crown Heights disturbance, a Hasidic Jew (guest star Theodore Bikel) makes a (mistaken) citizen’s arrest in his granddaughter’s assault, provoking a heated backlash in the black community.
Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict (TV-PG) The Star Trek creator’s posthumous interplanetary potboiler stars Kevin Kilner (above right, with Von Flores and Lisa Howard) as the human liaison to a race of hyper-evolved aliens who touch down in third-millennium America to offer earthlings solutions to their problems. Like we’re supposed to believe there’s no hidden agenda …
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Tuesday October 7
Season Premiere 8-9PM*
Nova (PBS) The science-based documentary series commences its 24th season with ”Coma,” a month-by-month charting of one patient’s progress from diagnosis to recovery.
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Michael Hayes (CBS, TV-PG-L) The crusading attorney takes on the medical establishment when an HMO’s stinginess denies a young leukemia patient a pricey test, costing him his life and Hayes his star witness.
Hiller And Diller (ABC, TV-PG) As a sitcom writing team, Richard Lewis and Kevin Nealon are such an odd couple they rarely seem to be on the same wavelength — which would be funnier if H&D were better written. The show, conceived by feature-film guys Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Parenthood), is reasonably well-executed, but its only truly amusing character is H and D’s boss, a tyrannical boob played to exasperated perfection by SCTV‘s Eugene Levy. More of him, please. C — KT
NYPD Blue (ABC, TV-14-LV) For a change, Sipowicz and Simone aim to prove a murder suspect’s innocence, while Medavoy, Kirkendall, and Russell collaborate on a stakeout to nab a serial rapist.
Wednesday October 8
Spin City (ABC, TV-PG-DL) Though at first happy to hear that Laurie is anti-commitment, Mike soon discovers the double-edged sword that is the open relationship.
Dharma & Greg (ABC, TV-PG) Greg’s mother misunderstands Dharma’s use of the word shower as a harbinger of a blessed event.
The Drew Carey Show (ABC) Drew suspects Wick and Mimi are behind his firing, only to discover that his corpulent coworker and blowhard boss may have formed a union of an entirely different kind.
Ellen (ABC, TV-14) What was once TV’s poster show for the asexual is suddenly its most sex-obsessed sitcom. This week, Ellen gets all hot and bothered when she mistakes a neighbor’s roommate suggestion for a romantic fix-up. 9:30-10PM
Series Debut 9:30-10PM
Working (NBC, TV-PG) The goal behind this season’s most optimistically titled newcomer (excepting only NBC’s Built to Last) is to portray nine-to-five life at a conglomerate as really alienating, soulless, and funny. Sadly, only two of those three apply to Working‘s pilot. In its depiction of idealistic first-jobber Matt Peyser (Fred Savage) the show aspires to the suit-skewering surrealism of classics like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Instead, it offers dialogue and an ensemble (the jaded, take-no-guff office manager; sassy, sexy secretary; narcissistic, cold-blooded boss, et al.) that are strictly business as usual. C — Mike Flaherty
Law & Order (NBC, TV-PG) Briscoe and Curtis pursue, and McCoy and Ross attempt to prosecute, a teenage couple who may have murdered their baby.
Thursday October 9
Friends (NBC, TV-PG) Chandler gets lucky with Rachel’s boss (guest star Alison LaPlaca) and finds himself in another embarrassingly vulnerable position.
Nothing Sacred (ABC, TV-14) ”If this episode has something new to offer, it’s because it had to please a Catholic priest [series cocreator Paul Leland] and a Jewish feminist,” says writer/Jewish feminist Jan Oxenberg of the drama’s controversial abortion episode, which has already prompted some advertisers to pull out. In it, Fathers Ray (Kevin Anderson, above) and Leo give Rachel conflicting advice on how to proceed with her pregnancy, igniting a fractious debate within the parish.
Seinfeld (NBC, TV-PG) At his father’s behest, George winds up in a computer-selling competition with his overachieving archnemesis, Lloyd Braun (Matt McCoy).
Cracker (ABC, TV-14-LV) Fitz interrogates a teacher suspected of killing one of his students and ponders an affair with Tyler.
Veronica’s Closet (NBC, TV-PG) Past and present Entertainment Tonight anchors Leeza Gibbons and Bob Goen guest-star when a newly dumped Bryce goes public with his and Veronica’s marital dirt.
ER (NBC, TV-PG) Hathaway gets green-eyed when she discovers Corday flirting with Ross, who’s sweating out the future of his research proposal now that Weaver’s wielding the budgetary ax.
The Unexplained: Pain And Torture (A&E, TV-PG) No, not a brief history of the UPN network; rather, a collection of real-life anecdotes from survivors of excruciating distress.
Masters Of Fantasy: Roger Corman (Sci-Fi Channel, TV-G) A profile of the director-producer whose low-budget scream-fests — like A Bucket of Blood (1959), Not of This Earth (1957), and Little Shop of Horrors (1960) — elicited critical shrugs and pop-culture reverence.
Friday October 10
The Visitor (Fox, TV-PG) When he receives a disturbing message from space (is there any other kind?), the Visitor beseeches a scientist to be his earthbound translator.
2 Days In The Valley (Cinemax, R) The pitch-black Tarantino-esque comedy (1996) is worth a look simply for its wackily eclectic cast. We’re talking everyone from James Spader to Teri Hatcher to Louise Fletcher to Marsha Mason to a pre-Dellaventura Danny Aiello (above).
The Gregory Hines Show (CBS, TV-PG) Ben uses the occasion of his poker night with the guys to cut an independence-minded Matty some slack, by allowing him to stay home sans babysitter.
Saturday October 11
C-16 (ABC, TV-PG-V) Shades of Talk Radio attend an episode — shot in real time — in which Olansky’s team tries to deter an irate listener from blowing up a radio shock jock and his station.
Remember Wenn (American Movie Classics, TV-G) ”It’s the kind of show you hope people ‘get,”’ says guest star and WENN fan Jason Alexander (above right) of the erudite period sitcom. In this episode (which he also directed), he plays Alan Ballinger, a slick radio mentalist who works his wiles on the station’s Hilary Booth (Melinda Mullins, above left). Says Alexander of his character, ”He’s putting on the guise of the Svengali, but actually he’s got a heart and an Achilles’ heel, which is [ultimately] revealed.”
Early Edition (CBS, TV-PG-L) More potential big bangs here too, as Gary aims to keep his high school sweetheart’s wedding from turning into a real blowout: He’s learned one of her gifts will be a box of explosives.
Taxicab Confessions 4: Cruisin’ In Vegas (HBO, TV-MA) For those who like their voyeurism to go, a brand-new hour of backseat bawdiness, shot in Sin City.
The Practice (ABC, TV-PG-L) Another saucy predicament for Jimmy, as the diffident lawyer has a sexual dream about one of his colleagues. Bobby, meanwhile, cochairs a murder case with an ex-lover.
Sunday October 12
Playmates Of The 1970s (E!) A nostalgic, leering look at the Playboy centerfolds who reigned supreme over the ”Have a nice day” decade.
The Defenders: Payback (Showtime, TV-PG) You can’t keep John Larroquette out of a courtroom. The four-time Emmy winner for Night Court recently played a defendant on ABC’s The Practice, and now he’s back as a client in this TV-movie update of the ’60s legal drama. E.G. Marshall reprises his role as senior partner Lawrence Preston, with Beau Bridges as his son. Larroquette overacts wildly as a vigilante who murders his daughter’s rapist, but the understated performances of Marshall and Bridges bode well for future installments (the second is set to air early next year). B — BF
Jenny (NBC, TV-PG) Just weeks after making their break to L.A., a broke Maggie and Jenny reluctantly return to the service sector, this time at Inky Pete’s Copy Shop.
Destination Sunday (TBS, TV-PG) Proto-supermodel Lauren Hutton escorts two New York youngsters on an eye-opening adventure to the Kenyan bush in ”Little Warriors.”
Final Descent (CBS) An airborne Speed, the TV movie stars Robert Urich and Annette O’Toole as the pilots of a jumbo jet that, after enduring a midair collision, is capable only of further ascension.
Mobil Masterpiece Theatre: The Mill On The Floss (PBS) The series that gives TV movies a good name kicks off its 27th season with an adaptation of George Eliot’s classic 1860 novel.
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Fight For The Right (MTV) Curfews, metal detectors, school-newspaper censorship. Necessary ’90s-era safeguards or repressive tools of the Man? The documentary miniseries looks at the political activism of teens (part 1 of 3).