Diversity highlights this fall's arts and entertainment Television

September 13, 1990|By Michael Hill

It's neither the best of times nor the worst of times in network television. The new season doesn't have any shows of groundbreaking, can't-miss quality, but it is also mercifully nearly free of total clunkers as the network executives seem to have finally figured out that trotting out the same old formulas every fall just drives people to their tape rental stores. A few highlights:

* CBS broadcasts "Field of Dreams" Tuesday. This is the first movie to show up from a package that cost CBS a lot of money. The network paid the price to broadcast the titles before they are shown on pay cable channels. Whether or not this Kevin Costner film can generate the type of excitement the initial network broadcast of big theatrical hits did in the days before cable and videocassettes, it's still a great movie to watch in the waning days of the baseball season.

* "Evening Shade" begins its season on CBS Sept. 21. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the woman responsible for "Designing Women," is finally turning out a new series, writing a sitcom expressly for her new lead actor, Burt Reynolds. He plays a football star who moves back to his small hometown, which is populated by an impressive supporting cast, Hal Holbrook, Marilu Henner, Ossie Davis, Charles Durning and Elizabeth Ashley. The show is definitely worth checking out.

* "The Civil War" premieres on PBS Sept. 23. This most important piece of our country's history, which has been trivialized by entertainment television, finally gets the respect its due in prime time in this 11-hour, five-night documentary miniseries. Filmmaker Ken Burns, whose works include documentaries on the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, uses his ability to make archival photographs come to life, blending those images with a variety of skillful readings of contemporary texts. This is a moving and eloquent work that should not be missed.

* ABC's "Twin Peaks," the most-talked-about series, makes its fall debut with a two hour movie Sept. 30. David Lynch is once more in the director's chair. Last time he was there, we saw a midget dancing, speaking in a voice that sounded so strange because Lynch recorded the actors pronouncing the words backward and then played the recording in reverse. No telling what we'll see this time, but you should get an idea of who killed that Palmer girl.

* Oct. 11 -- this date's not etched in stone yet -- will probably mark the debut of the first of the new episodes of the wonderful animated series "The Simpsons." Fans of the Fox show have seen the 13 made thus far about four times each, so in late October we'll get a real idea of how Bart and his loving family stack up in America's heart against the Huxtables of NBC's "The Cosby Show."

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