A GUIDE TO NOTABLE PROGRAMS BY BRUCE FRETTS. (TIMES ARE EASTERN STANDARD AND ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.)
1 Wednesday Beverly Hills, 90210 (Fox, 8-9 p.m.) Brenda (Shannen Doherty) wonders whether she should drop trou’ in an experimental theater production. Andrea (Gabrielle Carteris) wonders whether she should drop Dan (Matthew Porretta) to date Jesse (Mark Damon Espinoza).
Home Improvement (ABC, 9-9:30 p.m.) At her 20th high school reunion, Jill (Patricia Richardson) introduces her ex-boyfriend, Jack (Michael Toland), to Tim (Tim Allen)-and confronts her ex-best friend, Joanie (Lee Garlington), who lured Jack away. melrose place (Fox, 9-10 p.m.) With his lover, Kimberly (Marcia Cross), still hospitalized after their auto accident, a recuperating Michael (Thomas Calabro) shacks back up with his estranged wife, Jane (Josie Bissett). Meanwhile, Billy (Andrew Shue) makes Alison (Courtney Thorne-Smith) decide between him and Steve (Parker Stevenson).
Tales From The Crypt (HBO, 10-10:30 p.m.) Clancy Brown (Frankenstein’s monster in the 1985 monstrosity The Bride) plays a murderous chemical-company executive haunted by a doppelganger in ”Half Way Horrible,” written and directed by Backdraft screenwriter Gregory Widen.
2 Thursday The Partridge Family (Nick at Nite, 8-8:30 p.m.) Those Partridges were PC before PC was born. In an episode guest-starring Howard Cosell and the late Bert Convy, the band makes a record with the sounds of a whale and donates the proceeds to the New York Zoological Society.
All Aboard! Riding The Rails of American Film (AMC, 10-11 p.m.) Jason Robards Jr. (who hopped a train in 1969’s Once Upon a Time in the West) and Eva Marie Saint (who jumped Cary Grant on one in 1959’s North by Northwest) pop up in this clip-packed documentary tracking locomotives through Hollywood history.
‘Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In’ Past and Christmas Present (NBC, 10-11 p.m.) ”Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” 25th Anniversary delivered big ratings last February, so NBC goes back to the vaults for footage of Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Jo Anne Worley, et al. in yuletide-themed skits.
3 Friday Movie: Candles In The Dark (Family, 8-10 p.m.) This anti-Communist, pro- Christmas drama is the first movie filmed in the Baltic state of Estonia ever to be shown on American television. It’s also the first movie ever to costar Alyssa Milano (Who’s the Boss?) and Maximilian Schell (Stalin).
Picket Fences (CBS, 10-11 p.m.) Christmas in Rome, Wis.: Jill (Kathy Baker) can find no medical explanation for a comatose woman’s pregnancy, and local clergymen debate the possibility that it could be a virgin birth.
Out There (Comedy Central, 10-11 p.m.) wax cracks hollywood (HBO, 12:30-1 a.m.) Two outrageous comedy specials: Out There spotlights such homosexual cutups as stand-up Lea DeLaria (whose album is entitled Bull Dyke in a China Shop), Bob Smith (of the comedy troupe Funny Gay Males), and ”Jewish lesbian folksinger” Phranc. In the pseudo-documentary Wax Cracks Hollywood, Ruby Wax, an American comedy writer-actress who emigrated to England, returns to L.A. to seek fame and fortune by any means necessary-including by getting breast implants and playing a French maid in a porno film.