A GUIDE TO NOTABLE PROGRAMS BY BRUCE FRETTS.
Sitcoms ABC stoked its fiery feud with Roseanne Arnold by killing her husband Tom’s showbiz satire, The Jackie Thomas Show, last season. It wasn’t long before CBS stepped in, trying to curry favor with Ms. Arnold by snapping up her lesser half for a new sitcom, tom (CBS, March 2, 8:30-9 p.m.). Mr. Arnold’s new network would have you believe that Jackie Thomas failed because it didn’t show us the real Tom Arnold. Of course he’s no hyperactive, egotistical celebrity-he’s a blue-collar, Midwestern family man. But given that Roseanne has just signed a three-year deal with ABC, CBS’ interest in Tom may not last too long. Mysteries CBS’ cameo-heavy surprise hit Burke’s Law (33rd for the season) has proven the ratings power of guest stars-this week’s list includes Melissa Sue Anderson, Tom Bosley, Roddy McDowall, and Mark Hamill-and no one has jumped on this trend quicker than Gerald McRaney. His Major Dad lives on only in USA Network reruns, but McRaney has gotten back to his Simon & Simon crime-drama roots, playing a murderous film techie on Law’s premiere, a pugnacious Irish-American priest on The Commish, and a cop investigating a call girl’s death on Dick Van Dyke’s Diagnosis Murder (CBS, March 4, 8-9 p.m.). McRaney’s working hard, but you gotta wonder what his wife, Delta Burke, is doing with all her free time these days.
Cartoons Nearly as busy as McRaney, Jason Alexander kvetches on Seinfeld, pitches Rold Gold Fat Free Thin Pretzels, and provides the voice of Duckman (USA, March 5, 10:30-11 p.m.), a quacking detective. Now that the Seinfeld cast has moved beyond commercials (Jerry pushes American Express; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Clairol’s Nice ‘n Easy; Michael Richards, Pepsi) and into the realm of animation, get ready for the next logical step-the Saturday-morning superhero Kramerman. After all, they gave a kids’ show to Pee-wee Herman.
Movies Viva Ann-Margret! The ’60s sex kitten is still purring on the big screen in Grumpy Old Men and has saturated the media to promote her new autobiography. Looking plumper than she did in Grumpy, A-M shows off her most earnest side as a Detroit homemaker who travels to war-torn Romania to adopt an orphan in Nobody’s Children (USA, March 3, 9-11 p.m.). Filmed on location, this well- meaning weeper screams ”international coproduction”: Executive producers include Tarak Ben Ammar, Peby Guisez, and Henry ”Fonzie” Winkler. With Ann- Margret’s career back in swing, the Joey Heatherton renaissance can’t be far behind.
Celeb Specials There’s no better evidence that Oscar voters’ arty, Anglophile tastes are out of touch with the American public’s than the 20th annual people’s choice awards (CBS, March 8, 9-11 p.m.). No sign of Holly Hunter or Emma Thompson here-America’s top picks for Favorite Actress in a Dramatic Motion Picture are Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal, Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief, and Sharon Stone in Sliver. Unrelated to the People’s Choice Awards, People’s 20th birthday (ABC, March 7, 9-11 p.m.) kicks off the personality magazine’s third decade. Anchored by Good Morning America’s Charles Gibson and Joan Lunden, the retrospective revisits stricken stars such as Annette Funicello, who’s still battling multiple sclerosis, as well as the less famous John Thompson, who lost his arms in an agricultural accident. Plus: the Sexiest Men Alive, the Most Beautiful People, and bayou funkster Dr. John singing the new People theme song. Was there an old one?