ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Here's a tough call. Media Monitor often complains when television creates more and more lame cartoon adventures for kids, especially when they are animated versions of real people. So the arrival of "Lightning Force," a drama with real actors, is worth noting (premiering at 10 a.m. tomorrow on WNUV-Channel 54).
On the other hand, the show is one of the first to arrive which, judging from its publicity materials, glorifies military combat in general and the Persian Gulf war in particular.
The hour-long opener postulates the creation of an elite, international peace-keeping team of members from four countries in the Desert Storm alliance: Wings Hauser as an American Special Forces officer, David Stratton as a Canadian demolitions expert, Guylaine St. Onge as a French helicopter pilot and Marc Gomes as a former Egyptian intelligence expert.
OK, violence in the world is real. But is this necessary? The syndicated show repeats at 10 p.m. next Friday, then takes up a 4:30 p.m. Saturday slot (adjacent to "Superboy" and "Harry and the Hendersons").
* Parents who felt their youngsters might have been disturbed by last month's lamentable media frenzy over the indecent exposure arrest of Pee-wee Herman should know that this weekend's premiere of the Fox series "In Living Color" (at 8 p.m. Sunday, WBFF-Channel 45) includes a sketch on the subject.
A publicity photo shows an action doll figure of the children's show star and, given this series' irreverent nature, subtlety seems unlikely.
* Was anybody else irked this week by NBC's paradoxical on-air promotions for the season premiere of "The Cosby Show?"
One night, we saw a spot urging viewers to tune in for "a surprise engagement." And just 15 minutes later (same channel), another one followed that spilled the beans, with Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe) announcing to her father, "I'm engaged."
So where was the surprise?
* Peripatetic former network newscaster Linda Ellerbee and her production company, Lucky Duck Productions, are behind a new news show for kids premiering this weekend on the Nickelodeon cable channel.
"Nickelodeon Special Edition: The Day the Earth Threw Up" can be seen at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. It covers how the young can have an impact on improving the environment.
* The season premiere of ABC's "Life Goes On" (7 p.m. Sunday, Channel 13) sounds worth watching, as real life rises up and smacks the lifelong dream which Drew (Bill Smitrovich) realized just last season: Fire strikes the family restaurant.