The unpopular ''Sunday Best'' is on hiatus and faces an uncertain future

Sunday Best has proven to be one of the least popular shows on television. That’s mostly because it’s on opposite 60 Minutes, but also because it was widely viewed as a bad idea before it even went on the air. As soon as Sunday Best‘s concept was announced — an hour devoted to highlights from the previous week’s prime-time schedule as well as television’s rich past — the critics’ snickers were deafening. Okay, so Sunday Best isn’t ground-breaking stuff, and it’s more than a little odd that the ”best” clips all come from NBC, aside from an occasional scene from shows on the anything-for-a-plug Fox network. In its first three editions, however, Best was an amusing little diversion. Host Carl Reiner was his usual mixture of charm and sarcasm, Harry Shearer offered some aggressively mean 60 Minutes parodies, and Merrill Markoe did an absorbing profile of Hoyt Curtin, the man who has written the theme songs for such Hanna-Barbera cartoons as The Jetsons, Huckleberry Hound, and Magilla Gorilla.

Certainly, Best‘s sense of TV history could be better: There’s no need to run clips from not-so-old shows — who needs to see Little House on the Prairie snippets when the series is pervasive in syndication? And how about dropping Linda Ellerbee’s stultifying ”This Week in TV History” segment (”This week in 1967, we saw The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”)? Ellerbee’s coffee commercials were more exciting. But I’m paying more attention to Sunday Best than NBC is; the show is now officially ”on hiatus” to be reworked and rethought (maybe even recast?). The network is vague about either a return date or the show’s chances for survival. That’s too bad, because Best is good, and deserves better.