MONDAY January 18
SEASON PREMIERE NOON-8:30PM RUGRATS (Nickelodeon, TV-Y) The ubiquitous scamps get an eight-hour marathon before cutting their teeth on season No. 6.
SERIES DEBUT 7-7:30PM SO WEIRD (Disney Channel, TV-PG) A 14-year-old sleuth solves cases while on the road with her rock-star mom (one Mackenzie Phillips).
9-11PM WHAT WE DID THAT NIGHT (ABC, TV-PG-V) The thriller stars Rick Schroder as a grown-up frat boy drawn to revisiting a deadly prank from the good ol’ days.
9-9:30PM EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS, TV-PG-L) Flashback alert: Ray owns up to a drunken bash he threw as a teenager while the ‘rents were away.
10-10:30PM PETE’S GARDEN (Sundance Channel) The short from Ally McBeal’s Greg Germann portrays a trying time in a dad and daughter’s relationship.
SEASON PREMIERE 10-10:30PM ROAD RULES (MTV, TV-PG) Six newbies traverse Latin America in search of adventure. Let’s hope they can’t stand one another.
10-11PM L.A. DOCTORS (CBS, TV-PG) After her stunning arc as a cancer patient on thirtysomething, Patricia Wettig (above) had one question before agreeing to play the brain-tumor-afflicted love of real-life spouse Ken Olin: ”Do I have to be bald again?” Sans do-rag, Wettig’s Eleanor weakens in tonight’s ep (which also guest-stars Robin Williams) but isn’t going anywhere yet: ”Let’s just say they have asked me to be a little open-ended,” she says.
TUESDAY January 19
6:30-8PM DEAR JESSE (Cinemax, TV-PG) Gay filmmaker Tim Kirkman weaves a scathing Rashomon-esque documentary on Senator Jesse Helms.
8-9PM BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (The WB, TV-14-LV) The Buffster is subjected to a deadly test of her slaying mettle on the eve of her 18th birthday.
9PM STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, C-SPAN) Randy interns? Stained Gap dresses? Impeachment trials? Pish-posh! Watch the true Teflon Prez give great spin in the annual whassup.
9-10PM FELICITY (The WB, TV-14-D) Our heroine returns from Christmas break with a belated gift for Noel: her virginity.
9-11PM ULTIMATE DECEPTION (USA Network, TV-14) Richard Grieco and Yasmine Bleeth (above) in a USA movie that doesn’t suck? That’s the ultimate deception. They star in the true story of Bobby Woodkin, a con man who kills his best friend’s daughter-in-law and steals her baby, then convinces his wife (Bleeth) that their child has been adopted. Bleeth weeps wonderfully, and Grieco instills Woodkin with enough pathos that you almost feel bad when he goes down. B+ — Kristen Baldwin
WEDNESDAY January 20
8-9PM DAWSON’S CREEK (The WB, TV-14-DS) Dawson’s salacious script scribblings have some thinking that he’s getting wild with Jen.
8-9PM BEVERLY HILLS 90210 (Fox, TV-PG-V) Some people buy postcards; Dylan returned from Europe with a smack addiction and a predilection for trouble. This week, his self-destructive wont lands him in jail.
8-9PM* SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS (PBS) It would be easy to think that Alan Alda’s (above) scarce film appearances denote a laurel-resting slacker in the autumn of his career. But, as his shepherding of this playful nature series shows, he’s no impassive Dr. Do Little. In fact, it’s his genuine engagement and avuncular curiosity that drives ”Animal Einsteins,” which finds him conversing with a number of God’s brainier creatures, who seem capable of thinking about numbers, words, shapes, even thinking itself. B+ *CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS
8:30-9PM MAGGIE WINTERS (CBS, TV-G) A where-are-they-now stunt casting has Ken Berry as the town sheriff when Maggie starts a neighborhood-watch program.
9-10PM* THE LIVING EDENS (PBS, TV-PG) Meet the wandering albatross, the king penguin, and the snow petrel when the nature series ventures to remote ”South Georgia Island: Paradise of Ice.” *CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS
9-10PM AMERICAN JUSTICE (A&E, TV-PG) ”The Larry Flynt Story: Hustling the First Amendment” profiles the smut peddler-turned-outer of adulterous congressmen.
9:30-10PM WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? (ABC, TV-PG) Drew Carey presides as the improv-mad ensemble sinks its teeth into a Dating Game sketch and a hoedown dedicated to baldness.
10-10:30PM SOUTH PARK (Comedy Central, TV-MA) Stan and Kyle have their friendship tested when they discover a prehistoric iceman.
10:30-11:30PM MARK TWAIN PRIZE HONORING RICHARD PRYOR (Comedy Central, TV-14-L) It’s a long way from Pudd’N Head Wilson to That Nigger’s Crazy. Maybe Robin Williams, Chris Rock, and Damon Wayans can connect the dots.
THURSDAY January 21
8-8:30PM FRIENDS (NBC, TV-PG) Believe it or not, Chandler’s abrasive ex, Janice, is back. This time, though, she’s hooked a smitten Ross. Monica, meanwhile, is disgusted by Chandler’s workplace butt kissing.
9-10PM DIAGNOSIS MURDER (CBS, TV-PG-V) The man who set the standard for TV doc dicks, Jack Klugman, guests as a detective who, much to Mark’s irritation, reopens the 10-year-old case of the ”Clown Killer.”
9-9:30PM FRASIER (NBC, TV-PG) A Super Bowl party is the setting for another matchmaking try by Frasier, this time between Martin and Roz’s mom (guest Eva Marie Saint).
9-10PM CUPID (ABC, TV-PG-L) You’d think a messenger of love descended from Mount Olympus would instinctively know that one of his matchmaking prospects is at death’s door. But no… (R)
SERIES DEBUT 9-10PM TURKS (CBS, TV-PG-LV) Don’t be confused by its name; the clan of the new cop drama is Irish — you know, just like its stereotype-ridden precursors Trinity and To Have & To Hold. Unlike them, Turks is pretty watchable. William Devane (above) brings his formidable chops to the role of problem-solving patriarch Joe Turk, a Chicago police sergeant showing the ropes to the two sons who aspire to his flatfooting legacy. And Mama Turk? Well, she keeps herself busy working at the local parish, don’tcha know. Hey, we’re not saying it’s entirely cliche free… B
10-11PM ER (NBC, TV-PG) Ever the iconoclast, Ross provides unauthorized meds to a patient. Hmm, wonder if this pickle could wind up being George Clooney’s ticket out?
10-11PM* ALFRED I. DUPONT-COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AWARDS IN TELEVISION AND RADIO JOURNALISM (PBS) We promise Joan and Melissa Rivers won’t be loitering on the premises of these festivities. *CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS
11PM-MIDNIGHT U2 AT RED ROCKS (VH1) This fiery, pre-ironic 1983 gig at the Colorado amphitheater went a long way toward making the lads global superstars. (R)
FRIDAY January 22
7-8PM A WOMAN’S TOUCH IN THE NFL: TACKLING PRO FOOTBALL (Lifetime) A tutorial on the rules and personalities of the gridiron for the distaff set.
9-10PM THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (CBS, TV-PG-LV) Shades of Zorro, as Buck winds up in a saber duel with a powerful Mexican bent on taking Inez back south of the border.
9-10PM* NATIONAL DESK (PBS) National Public Radio’s Mara Liasson hosts ”Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sleaze: Media and Politics,” the second installment of the zeitgeist-scrutinizing newsmag. *CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS
9-10PM MILLENNIUM (Fox, TV-14-V) Despite an absurdly facile climax, ”Collateral Damage” is the chronically underachieving series’ high point this season. That’s in no small part due to a cogent plot (disgruntled Desert Storm vets abduct Watts’ daughter as payback for the Group’s part in U.S. biological-warfare tests against its own soldiers); a sharp guest-starring turn from James Marsters (erstwhile Buffy villain Spike); and the clever stunt casting of conspiracy-mongering radio personality Art Bell (above) as himself. B+
SATURDAY January 23
7-9PM ZENON: GIRL OF THE 21ST CENTURY (Disney Channel, TV-G) A 13-year-old girl endures cosmological culture shock when she’s expelled from her family’s space station and sent to Earth.
8-10PM HIGH ROLLERS: A HISTORY OF GAMBLING IN AMERICA (History Channel) Much as in its relationship with drugs and pornography, America has shown an insatiable appetite for gambling. Despite ongoing finger wagging from various social critics, our yen for games of chance is an American hallmark (government lotteries have been raising money since colonial times). But, as this prodigiously researched rundown shows, it’s gambling’s repeated boom-and-bust cycles that bring our schizoid relationship with it into focus, as unacceptable vice meets irresistible allure. B
9-10PM MARTIAL LAW (CBS) Yay, substitutes! Sammo and Terrell go undercover as high school teachers to get ahold of a Colombian drug kingpin.
10PM-8AM THIS LIFE (BBC America, TV-MA) They’re hip, they’re lawyers, they’re Brits, and they’re aiming to win us over with a 10-episode marathon.
SUNDAY January 24
7-9PM THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY (ABC) Oh, how the mighty have fallen…. Peter Bogdanovich directs A Saintly Switch, starring David Alan Grier as a pro footballer whose children discover magic as a means to save their parents’ marriage.
8-8:30PM THE SIMPSONS (Fox, TV-PG) More yucky than yuk-y, ”Lard of the Dance” has Homer recruiting Bart for his fast-buck scheme to recycle Springfield’s discarded grease. (R)
8-9PM BIOGRAPHY (A&E, TV-G) Carnac would say ”Hefty, hearty, and hottie” to encapsulate this profile of the bodacious Judds. You can stick with Wynonna, Naomi, and Ashley.
8-9PM LONELY PLANET: CZECH REPUBLIC AND SOUTHERN POLAND (Travel Channel, TV-PG) Host Justine Shapiro finds that in the wake of communism’s collapse, Eastern Europeans have been partying, creating, and worshipping like nobody’s business.
8-9PM PACIFIC BLUE (USA Network, TV-PG-D) Guess this is called a ”special episode” in syndication land: Danny Bonaduce, Erik Estrada, and Adam West keep their career respirators chugging when they show up for all the pedal-pushing, cleavage-heaving action.
8-9PM INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO: ROBERT DE NIRO (Bravo, TV-PG) The notoriously skittish De Niro normally projects an unease bordering on contempt in television talk-show appearances, but, according to host James Lipton, this one turned into a raging bull session. ”Oh, my God!” he recalls. ”There’s a moment in it when he’s leaning so far out of his chair that I thought he was going to fall out.” Apparently Inside’s academic bent went a long way toward loosening up the Bobster. As for the audience (aspiring actors at New York’s New School for Social Research auditorium) reaction? Fugeddaboudit. ”The students are in heaven,” says Lipton. ”They’ve arrived on Parnassus. And in the exchanges between him and the students — their faces, his face — what you see is this astounding passing of the torch from one generation to the next.”
8-10PM SAFE HOUSE (Showtime, TV-14) Patrick Stewart stars as a paranoid, Alzheimer’s-ridden man who believes a presidential candidate is out to kill him. Kimberly Williams (Relativity) is the caregiver who must divine conspiracy from kookiness — and remind him what day it is.
8-11PM SECRET WORLD OF… (TLC, TV-G) The show that is to MIT students what World’s Wildest Police Chases is to the rest of us debuts three segments devoted to the engineering genius behind ”Cars,” ”Airports,” and ”Mega-Structures.”
8-10PM DOG DAY AFTERNOON (Flix, R) Al Pacino runs amok, brilliantly, in Sidney Lumet’s 1975 potboiler about a man who attempts to rob a Brooklyn bank in order to pay for his lover’s sex-change operation. (No, really.) Attica! Attica! Attica!
8-11PM 56TH ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS (NBC) Strangely, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s plaudits seem more influential every year, despite some downright inscrutable nominations (on what planet is Lance Henriksen the best actor in a TV drama?). From a viewing standpoint, though, it’ll be good fun to see if any of their wackier selections walk away with statuettes — and to watch Jack Nicholson (above) snag their Cecil B. DeMille Award. (Live
8:30-9PM THAT ’70S SHOW (Fox) Eric loses his privileges with the Vista Cruiser after he brings it home scratched. Luckily (or not), Kelso comes through with a replacement.
9-11:30PM THE 50 YEARS WAR: ISRAEL AND THE ARABS (PBS) A documentary nearly as exhaustive as its gnarly subject goes back to the founding of Israel to tell the story behind the sad, seemingly never-ending conflict. (Concludes Jan. 25) *CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS
9-10PM THE X-FILES (Fox, TV-PG) Another stab at the divide-and-conquer strategy leaves Scully with a new partner (guest star Richard Ruccolo), with whom she happens upon a crime-scene photographer who may be shooting the victims in more ways than one.
9-10PM THE SOPRANOS (HBO, TV-MA) Something to really make Mulder and Scully watch their backs: Episode 3 finds Tony and Junior squabbling over leadership of the biz, Meadow and Hunter copping speed for their SAT cram sessions, and Charmaine dropping a bomb (no, not literally) on Carmela.
10-11PM THE PRACTICE (ABC) Time for another look at a 1997 ace entitled ”Hide and Seek”: James Whitmore guests as a brilliant attorney who asks former protege Bobby to sit second chair in the face of his encroaching senility. (R)
11PM-MIDNIGHT AMERICA’S CASTLES (A&E, TV-PG) ”Rocky Mountain Retreats” undertakes a jaw-dropping survey of a handful of magnificent spreads built by turn-of-the-century coal, fur, and gold magnates.