The expanding schedules of cable networks
This fall HBO is presenting no fewer than seven original films, including Lockerbie (December), a docudrama about the Pan Am jet that exploded over Scotland two years ago; One Man’s War (January), about a family torn apart by the brutal dictatorship of Paraguay’s Gen. Alfredo Stroessner; Judgment (October), starring Keith Carradine and Blythe Danner as parents battling a priest accused of child molestation; and The Josephine Baker Story (January), starring Lynn Whitfield as the legendary singer and dancer. TNT will offer a new version of Orpheus Descending (September), with Vanessa Redgrave reprising her acclaimed Broadway role; Lifetime will present Storm and Sorrow (November), a mountain-climbing drama starring Lori Singer; and Showtime will have Psycho IV: The Beginning (November), starring Anthony Perkins as you-know-who (with E.T. alum Henry Thomas as Norman’s younger self). USA, meanwhile, will present Hitler’s Daughter (September), with Kay Lenz (Rich Man, Poor Man) as Adolf’s baby girl, now a presidential aide with designs on the White House.
For light comedy, there’s USA’s Dog House, a weekly series about a talking mutt (debuting in October). There’s also Nick at Nite’s first attempt at original programming, The Early Days, a sitcom following the stars and crew of a fictional ’50s TV show (December). TBS plans to celebrate The Andy Griffith Show‘s 30th anniversary with a marathon of reruns (October), while the HA! network is airing Random Acts of Variety (September), a hipster version of The Ed Sullivan Show, and Access America, a compilation of the wackiest local cable shows in the country (January).
Stand-up comedy will remain a cable specialty. HBO is offering concert performances by Steven Wright (September), Joe Piscopo (November), Dennis Miller (December), and Roseanne Barr (January). Showtime’s National Lampoon Comedy Playoffs (to find the funniest amateur comic in America) start in October, and beginning this month the Comedy Channel will run early concerts by, and short documentaries on, Sandra Bernhard, Dana Carvey, Eddie Murphy, and Jerry Seinfeld.
On the fact front, TNT has two new biographies this season, one of Vivien Leigh (October), the other of Greta Garbo (December). TBS will present Voice of the Planet (October), a five-part ecology ”discussion” with Mother Earth (Faye Dunaway will provide the voice). On HBO, documentaries will include Sex America, a look at the mating rituals of the ’80s and ’90s (November); The Best Hotel on Skid Row, filmmaker Peter Davis’ (Hearts and Minds) portrait of the denizens of L.A.’s Madison Hotel (December); and RFK: In His Own Words, a look at the life of Robert Kennedy (November). A&E, meanwhile, will examine the JFK mystique this month with a series of specials that look back at the 1960 presidential election. Finally, there’s USA’s Swamp Thing, a new weekly series based on the 1982 twig-in-cheek movie about a half-man, half- philodendron superhero (September).
With shows like that, who needs house plants?