What To Watch
A day-to-day guide to notable programs (times are Eastern daylight and are subject to change)
Monday August 17
Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS, TV-PG) Raymond‘s September ’96 pilot (wherein the Barones crash Debra’s should’ve-been-quiet birthday) isn’t as revealing as one might think, since, happily, not much has changed. (R)
16th Annual Miss Teen USA (CBS, TV-G) Ex-Saved by the Bell costar Mario Lopez brings his discriminating eye for adolescent pulchritude to bear as host of the pageant, live from Shreveport, La.
Ally McBeal (Fox, TV- 14-D) Ally confronts a 10-year-old legal prodigy and pays another visit to her smile therapist (Tracey Ullman). (R)
Nightmare In Big Sky Country (Lifetime, TV-14) A peed-off Montana militiaman (is there any other kind?) threatens the judge (Patricia Wettig) presiding over his scofflaw case in this TV movie.
Oz (HBO, TV-MA) Keller (the awesome Chris Meloni) knows that in Em City, the way to a man’s heart is through his…well, you know. Thus does he set about his sinister seduction of the newly widowed Beecher.
Series Debut Syndicated
Judge Mills Lane (Check Local Listings) Hizzoner’s approach might be most accurately gleaned through his critique of O.J.’s judge, Lance Ito. ”He lost control,” says Lane, ”just gave the gavel to the lawyers and said, ‘Run the show.’ It’s not supposed to work that way.” Lane says he would have scolded both sides, ”If you f— with me, I’ll build a cell for you sons of bitches and put you all down there.” That said, he promises of his show, ”It’s gonna be a kick.” Indeed.
Tuesday August 18
Joan Crawford Week (Turner Classic Movies) Considering her well-aired account of life with her coat hanger-wielding Mommie Dearest, wouldn’t daughter Christina want to steer clear of TCM’s 43-film salute to the screen goddess? ”Oh, no,” she laughs. ”I’m able to separate her talent from the problems she had as a private person.” Tonight, catch such early Joan flicks as Our Blushing Brides (1930, above). (Airs through Aug. 23.)
King Of The Hill (Fox, TV-PG) Hank unknowingly hires a junkie who manages to keep his job by claiming his jones qualifies as a disability. (R)
Any Day Now (Lifetime, TV-PG) Annie Potts and Lorraine Toussaint star as two women who renew their friendship amid flashbacks to the ’60s civil rights era.
Maggie (Lifetime, TV-PG) More middle-aged angst: Ann Cusack is a 40-year-old wife and veterinary student with an animal attraction to Jack Wagner.
Oh Baby (Lifetime, TV-PG) The sitcom stars Cynthia Stevenson as a test-tube mom and Joanna Gleason as her commiserating single-parent pal.
Wednesday August 19
Every Mother’s Worst Fear (USA, TV-14-VD) High tech meets low expectations: Cheryl Ladd stars as the eponymous parent whose daughter makes a scary online love connection that leads her to someone even scarier: Married … With Children‘s Ted McGinley.
The Drew Carey Show (ABC, TV-PG-L) A look back at the sweet, too-soon-abandoned re-lationship between Drew and Nicki as the pair decide to get engaged. (R)
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (ABC, TV-PG) An array of dating-game contestants get a razzing once-over on the wacky improv show.
New Episode! 10-10:30PM
South Park (Comedy Central, TV-MA) In ”Chef’s Salty Chocolate Balls,” the town’s invaded by Tinseltown types, irking the boys and (yay!) Mr. Hankey.
Series Debut 10:30-11PM
Upright Citizens Brigade (Comedy Central) Like the Firesign Theatre before them, the UCB excel in sketches within sketches and overarching themes, promulgating ideas both original and profoundly bleak. Witness the ”Bucket of Truth” (people go mad when they gaze into its ”unadulterated, immutable truth”), and a Girl Scout who knocks on the door of the ”real” Unabomber and ends up splitting a box of cookies with the affable murderer. Looks like the Brigade could be destined for greatness. A- — KT
Thursday August 20
Friends (NBC, TV-PG) The beginning of the end (of the season) was telegraphed with Ross’s proposal to Emily; Monica and Rachel ask Chandler and Joey for their apartment back. (R)
The Simpsons (Fox, TV-PG-SDL) Fox plops a twofer down into the wasteland that has been Thursday night this summer. In ”The Last Temptation of Krust,” the TV clown tanks when Springfield hosts a comedy festival. Guests include Jay Leno, Janeane Garofalo, and Steven Wright. ”Natural Born Kisser” finds a randy Homer and Marge attempting sex in a variety of public places. (R)
Push (ABC, TV-PG) Hey, look what’s still on! — at least for another week. Olympians Kerri Strug and Mitch Gaylord go to the mat for the athletic drama (ha!) when gymnast Nikki enters a professional tournament.
Seinfeld (NBC, TV-PG) In the last of the sitcom’s ace outings, ”The Maid,” Jerry takes to bonking his domestic servant, Kramer braves the wilds of downtown to visit his girlfriend, and George runs himself ragged in search of an apt nickname. (R)
Fox Files (FOX) The inquiring minds of Files visit the world of shoplifters, online stalkers, and violent teenagers.
Just Shoot Me (NBC, TV-PG) Elliott and Nina resort to Shakespearean intrigue to snag a trip to a London performance of King Lear. Finch gets into the act when guest star Carmen Electra appears as a potential traveling companion. (R)
ER (NBC, TV-PG) Morgenstern rethinks his return after he botches a surgical procedure; Jeanie helps Scott deal with a new round of chemotherapy and his infatuation with her. (R)
Friday August 21
Picture Perfect (Cinemax, PG-13) Jennifer Aniston took another stab at big-screen stardom with the 1997 comedy costarring Jay Mohr and Kevin Bacon.
The Three Musketeers (The History Channel, TV-PG) The History Channel loosens up with Richard Lester’s 1973 comedy starring Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, and Raquel Welch.
Millennium (Fox, TV-14) Poor Frank Black and Watts went all the way to Germany to research the Group’s beginnings, and all we got was this lousy episode! (R)
Unsolved Mysteries (CBS, TV-PG-V) British villagers believe a centuries-old chair can kill those who sit in it. We have two words for these people: Salvation Army.
Season Premiere 11:30PM-Midnight
The Chris Rock Show (HBO, TV-MA-L) Season 3 kicks off with guests both controversial (Johnnie Cochran) and cutting-edge (trip-hopper Tricky).
Saturday August 22
Charlie Chan Marathon (American Movie Classics, PG-13) If you can get past their ”unenlightened” ethnic portrayals, the 12 flicks, spanning 1935 to 1942, make for some cracking, comedic sleuthing.
The Magnificent Seven (CBS, TV-14-SV) While out drinking, gambling, and whoring, Chris, Buck, and J.D. tangle with the owner of a cathouse (guest Barry Corbin) who’s been abusing the help. (R)
Walker, Texas Ranger (CBS, TV-PG-V) Walker and Malloy search for detective Sandoval, who’s unwittingly blown his cover to the drug gang he’s infiltrated. (R)
Hard-Boiled (The Movie Channel, TV-MA-VLD) Been wondering why John Woo’s Hong Kong actioners inspire such critical awe? Then take a gander at this beautiful, brutal classic.
Series Debut 11:30PM-12:30AM
The Howard Stern Radio Show (CBS, TV-14) With Lorne Michaels watch- ing his back and William Paley spinning like a drill bit in his grave, the King of All Media makes a bid to expand his riotous reign.
Sunday August 23
Dinner At Eight (Turner Classic Movies) Witty, sophisticated dialogue. A well-constructed (if absurd) plot. An engaging, eclectic cast. Gee, George Cukor’s 1933 high-society comedy (starring Marie Dressler, Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, and John Barrymore) could serve as a veritable tutorial to the schlock meisters of present-day Hollywood.
Starring Jack Nicholson (Cinemax, R) The grab-bag marathon features a few of Jack’s many faces: as the President (Mars Attacks!), a gumshoe (Chinatown), a jewel thief (Blood and Wine), and a musician-turned-oil rigger (Five Easy Pieces).
Disaster Sunday (TBS, TV-PG) Just in time for hurricane season, the cataclysmic threesome features the season premiere of National Geographic Explorer; Killer Weather, a recap of the 1990s’ considerable litany of meteorologic havoc; and a re-airing of Fire From the Sky, which speculates on the ramifications of an Earth-meteor collision.
The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon (ABC, TV-G) With football season mere weeks away and garbage season never ending, what better time to re-air Tony Danza’s rags-to-riches TV movie? (R)
Series Debut! 7:30-8PM
Holding The Baby (Fox, TV-PG) The 1998-99 season’s Attack of the Single Dads begins with this sitcom, starring Jon Patrick Walker as an L.A. consultant trying to keep his career on track after being unceremoniously abandoned by his wife.
National Dog Championships (Animal Planet, TV-G) Seeking to get a leg up, as it were, on the impending national championships, the special takes a look behind the scenes at the nation’s premier canine contests.
New Episode! 8-8:30PM
The Simpsons (Fox, TV-PG-D) Thank God for Fox’s crafty scheduling, sandwiching this preseason bonbon (entitled ”Lard of the Dance,” in which Homer goes into the grease-collecting biz and Lisa Kudrow guest-stars as Lisa’s too-cool-for-school classmate) between their two new live-action sitcoms.
That ’70s Show (Fox, TV-PG) Thankfully, Fox’s sitcomic ode to that much maligned decade is considerably less generic than its title. So far, anyway.
Season Finale 9-9:30PM
Sex And The City (HBO, TV-MA) Winding up on a typically saucy note, ”Oh Come All Ye Faithful” finds Carrie at a crossroads with Mr. Big and Charlotte confronted with the prospect of spinsterdom.
The X-Files (Fox, TV-PG-V) Our intrepid, Emmy-nominated agents (and the series) tread familiar ground as they venture into the Florida hinterland to track down a deadly half-man, half-beast creature. (R)
The Baby Dance (Showtime, TV-14-VLD) Laura Dern is Wanda, a poor pregnant woman willing to give up her baby for adoption; Stockard Channing and Peter Riegert are a wealthy, childless couple desperate for that baby. Dance might easily have slipped into TV-movie melodrama, but as directed by Jane Anderson and acted with tough-mindedness, it does not. Channing and Riegert’s Rachel and Richard Luckman are as snappish and cunning as Wanda and her husband, Al (the superlatively subtle Richard Lineback), are easygoing and bumpkinish. Or so it seems. The script’s drama lies in its unfolding revelations: that the ironically named Luckmans are vulnerable to the emotional and financial manipulations of Wanda and Al; that Rachel and Wanda form a bond beyond maternal instinct; that, as Jean Renoir famously remarked, everyone has his reasons. A- — KT
Endless Harmony: The Beach Boys And Their Music (VH1, TV-PG) The documentary charts the surfer boys’ mid-’60s climb to the top as well as their darker days, as Brian Wilson splits the group and implodes, brother Dennis dies tragically, and the remaining Boys devolve into a nostalgia act.
La Femme Nikita (USA Network, TV-14-V) The first of a two-part kidnapping cliff-hanger.
Columbo: Strange Bedfellows (Fox Family Channel, TV-PG) The 1994 telemovie, starring George Wendt and Rod Steiger, has the lieutenant closing in on an heir-to-be who offs his spendthrift brother.
The Practice (ABC, TV- PG-L) Bigmouthed Lindsay sets off a chain reaction of squabbling among her colleagues when she demands to be made a partner. (R)