On The Weekend Watch:
MID-POINT PREMIERES -- New shows continue to appear in this mid-season transformation period. At 9:30 tonight on CBS (Channel 11), Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal bring their off-screen relationship to the tube in "Good Sports," playing rival sportscasters. (And did you see the show's ad in TV Guide? It may be a crossover first, for it suggests "join us right after 'Cheers' -- on another network," trading outrageously on NBC's top-rated series.) While not strictly a new series, PBS' "Mystery!" premieres tonight a new eight-part series of cases for Agatha Christie's vain sleuth Hercule Poirot. The new ABC series about the CIA at work, "Under Cover," takes up its regular position at 9 p.m. Saturday (Channel 13). And the new incarnation of "Dark Shadows" debuts in a two-part miniseries Sunday on NBC (9 o'clock, Channel 2), before taking up its weekly Friday-at-9 position.
TO READ, PERCHANCE TO RAP? -- Say what you want about rap, the semi-song urban entertainment is often quite literate, encouraging communication through clever language. And that is part of the point of "Reading, Writing and Rapmatazz," the latest special in Channel 11's Great Expectations education campaign at 8 tonight. Comedian Sinbad ("A Different World") hosts this half-hour based upon original works of high school students.
THE CABLE CONNECTION -- And speaking of Sinbad, he has his first solo cable comedy special on Saturday, the latest "HBO Comedy Hour" at 10 p.m. Taped at Atlanta's Morehouse College, it's pretty funny. New premium-service comedy debuts at 10 p.m. Saturday on Showtime, too. First comes "The Steven Banks Show," a sitcom pilot featuring the offbeat, talented mimic, followed at 10:30 by a half-hour of stand-up from "Paul Provenza, the Incredible Man-Boy." Cable's biggest event of the weekend, however, is the annual "ACE Awards Show," scheduled live at 9 p.m. Sunday on BET, Discovery, Family, Lifetime, Nick at Nite, TNT and TBS. Actor James Woods hosts cable's equivalent of the Emmys.
AWARDS, AWARDS -- And speaking of performance honors, two other shows are in the offing in the coming days. At 9:30 p.m. Friday on NBC (Channel 2) comes the first network broadcast of the annual "NAACP Image Awards" program, featuring the nation's top black entertainers. And the annual daytime "Soap Opera Awards" broadcast is scheduled at 3 p.m. Monday, also on NBC.
OLDIES BUT GOODIES -- Bob Hope is on NBC at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, with highlights of his recent "Christmas Cheer" tour of the Operation Desert Shield theater. And "Masterpiece Theatre" marks its 20th anniversary at 9 p.m. Sunday on PBS (channels 22 and 67) by launching a nine-week reprise of its best-remembered works, beginning with three episodes of "Upstairs, Downstairs." Other shows to come include parts of "I, Claudius," "The Jewel in the Crown" and "Elizabeth R," among others.