From the Helena Bonham Carter movie 'Sweet Revenge' to the debut of 'Beverly Hills, 90210' parody 'Grosse Pointe,' a guide to notable programs during the week of September 22, 2000

By Dalton RossBruce Fretts and Ken Tucker
September 22, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Tuesday September 19

The latest edition in this series on troubled teens treads on well worn ground by examining the social cliques and peer pressure rampant in today’s high schools. Eleven students from different coteries join together for sensitivity training to try to learn something about others and themselves. While the end result is predictably preachy, you’d be wise not to stray too far from the Kleenex. B-

Wednesday September 20

He’s been mistakenly linked to everything from the 1972 Olympic hostage massacre to assassination attempts on world leaders such as Ronald Reagan, but as this edition of History’s Mysteries shows, famous and feared terrorist Carlos the Jackal was really an often inept mercenary more artful in the skill of self promotion than Palestinian freedom fighting. Well compiled interviews with authors and intelligence agents shed light on the man whose greatest feat was generating ”an amount of terror that was completely disproportionate to his achievements.” B+

Thursday September 21

Unlike the casting catastrophe that is the Big Brother house, MTV knew just what sort of folks it wanted for their new Blair Witch inspired reality frightfest: scaredy cats, and lots of ’em. The setup: Six lily livered youngsters try to brave 72 hours in an abandoned — and supposedly haunted — prison. Sporting only audio/ video transmission units straight out of Aliens, they manage to scare themselves silly for no apparent reason while informing us that such tasks as pulling a sheet off a fake electric chair are, in fact, ”no joke.” But if it’s no joke, then why are we still laughing? B-

Friday September 22

Melrose Place creator Darren Star knows from nighttime soaps, so his parody of same is savvy, cutting, and delightfully silly. Sometimes cartoonishly so: The ingenue played by Bonnie Somerville is too turnip-truck naive. On the other hand, Irene Molloy’s Shannen Doherty and Lindsay Sloane’s Tori Spelling takeoffs (I can call them that, even if Star can’t) are pitch perfect. And the portraits of cynical producers and show runners are downright hilarious. Lotsa potential here, if they can sustain the debut’s amusing abrasiveness. B+
Ken Tucker

Saturday September 23

This delectably cheesy action hour’s second season opener finds Tia Carrere’s Lara Crofty heroine, Dr. Sydney Fox, posing as a nun to return a cursed idol to an African temple. Yet as fans of the Wayne’s World babe well know, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that schwing. So Carrere soon sheds her habit for a black tank top and tight pants, thus proving that you can’t spell ”Tia” without T&A. B
Bruce Fretts

Sunday September 24

A downsized middle manager (Sam Neill) and a jilted mistress (Helena Bonham Carter) plot to exact payback from each other’s nemeses in this klutzy adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays. Kristin Scott Thomas also costars, adding insult to the career injury that was Random Hearts. With writer director Malcolm Mowbray (A Private Function) setting a tone of sour whimsy, it’s no wonder Miramax sold this lemon straight to cable. D-
Bruce Fretts