Shannen Doherty isn’t the first young actress to get kicked off a prime-time series because of her behavior. In the early ’80s, Mackenzie Phillips got written out of One Day at a Time — twice. But Phillips kicked her cocaine and booze addictions long ago, and now she’s drawing on her past to appear on Beverly Hills, 90210 (Fox, Nov. 2, 8-9 p.m.) as a drug-rehab counselor who tries to help Dylan (Luke Perry) get off the sauce. Shannen fans will be glad to know she’s not jobless. In fact, she plays the lead in A Burning Passion: The Margaret Mitchell Story (NBC, Nov. 7, 9-11 p.m.), a biopic about the author of Gone With the Wind, not coincidentally airing six days before CBS’ Scarlett. With all the TV movies about troubled celebs lately, it’s a surprise nobody’s made one about Shannen called A Burning Pain.
The struggling-orphan drama Party of Five (Fox, Nov. 2, 9-10 p.m.) has struggled after Melrose Place on Mondays, so Fox is giving it a one-time-only post-90210 airing. A good idea, since Party fits better with the comparatively wholesome 90210 than does Models Inc. (which would make an appropriately sleazy companion to Melrose). On Party, Bailey (Scott Wolf) gets bummed out when he finds out new girlfriend Kate (Jennifer Blanc) wants to save herself for marriage, and Julia (Neve Campbell) gets chewed out for cutting classes. Not exactly Melrose-level shenanigans. Then again, when the series returns to its regular time slot on Nov. 7, Claudia (Lacey Chabert) finds out her violin teacher is gay, while Bailey makes out with an older woman (Gates McFadden, known to Trekkies as Dr. Beverly Crusher). If one of those damn orphans would just develop amnesia after getting run over by a scorned lover …
For the young at heart, In Search Of Dr. Seuss (TNT, Nov. 6, 8-10 p.m.) follows a pushy reporter (the live, but highly animated, actress Kathy Najimy) on a fact-finding tour through the life of celebrated children’s author Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss). And oh, the places she goes, and goes, and goes … The Cat in the Hat is her guide, played by ex-Max Headroom head Matt Frewer (purrfect in this mixed bag of treats — love that Elvis turn). There are animated snippets of Horton Hatches the Egg, The Lorax, and Sneeches, along with slightly jarring live-action interpretations of Green Eggs and Ham and McElligot‘s Pool, as well as a rap/gospel concoction based on Yertle the Turtle. The less-than-stellar star appearances include an uninspired Robin Williams as a dad reading The Cat in the Hat aloud, and an underutilized Christopher Lloyd as a halfheartedly manic character from Hunches in Bunches. But hey, at least we finally find out where the ”Dr.” came from.
Baywatcher David Hasselhoff steps out of the sun for a turn as a snowed-in, stubble-chinned diamond smuggler in Avalanche (Fox, Nov. 1, 8-10 p.m.), which is not a remake of the 1978 Rock Hudson-Mia Farrow disaster movie of the same name. Family Ties‘ Michael Gross costars as a divorced historian whose Game Boy-crazy son (Myles Ferguson) and college-bound daughter (Deanna Milligan) are taken hostage by Hasselhoff in a remote cabin near Mount McKinley. The cast is a bunch of frozen stiffs, but the locations (in British Columbia) are picturesque, and the special effects are impressive (it looks like they spent a million bucks on potato flakes alone). Despite the subzero temperatures, we still are treated to a gratuitous shot of Hasselhoff’s bare torso, when Gross performs CPR on him. How’s that for role reversal?