ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* The dog gets the best lines early on, but a new comedy special premiering tonight on the Showtime premium cable network is a couple big steps up from average throughout.
"Monica Piper: No, Monica . . . Just You" (at 10, with repeats Feb. 6, 9, 17 and 22) mostly features the comic doing a perceptive stand-up routine at the legendary Concord resort in the "Borscht Belt" Catskills.
The jokes tilt toward male/female relationships, occasionally a little off-color, but also include some funny stuff about her height. She's barely five feet tall, says she used to be married to a tall guy and, when they were together, "we looked like a semicolon."
A funny taped bit opens the show in which her mutt, in Sam Spade voice, describes her anxiety in a string of clever similes. Our favorites: "Her mood was blacker than an Amish fashion show," then, "The doll changed faster than Bush's stand on taxes."
* Jim Dasinger, the local psychologist who frequently is heard on WBAL-AM 1090 radio with talk-show hosts Allan Prell and Ron Smith, next week begins to offer children some advice about handling war anxieties on TV station WBFF-Channel 45.
His short taped bits will air during segments of the station's "Fox 45 Clubhouse," which can be seen between other shows weekday mornings from 6:30 to 9 a.m. and afternoons from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Producer Phillip Guthrie says, "Since we have a good direct outlet to kids . . . we thought we could help make them understand they can be afraid and yet not have it [war news] envelop their life."
Dasinger's 60-second and 30-second spots can be seen at various times through the duration of hostilities, including next week: 8:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Monday, 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. Thursday and 7:15 a.m. Friday.
* Speaking of the war, that was an interesting hour on "Donahue" Wednesday. While host Phil Donahue held forth before a studio audience in New York, a British counterpart -- John Stapleton of a show called "The Time . . . The Place" -- did the same in London. Satellite signals linked the two to permit an interchange.
Young British soldiers are actively involved in the Persian Gulf war, and it was useful to see that public opinion in England mirrors, to some degree, the conflicting feelings found in the United States. Equally obvious, personal anguish and worry about loved ones are the same.
* Here's a recent statistic worth contemplating, from the NPD Group Inc. media research firm: Not only do 75 percent of American households now contain a VCR, more than 25 percent of those have more than one. Does your house?