'Shade' stuck on an old plot device

MEDIA MONITOR

December 16, 1991|By Steve McKerrow

ON AND OFF THE AIR:

* What a time machine television can be! Sometimes just hearing the plot line of a single series, such as tonight's scheduled episode of "Evening Shade" on CBS (8 o'clock, Channel 11), can bring back memories of sitcoms past.

It's a variation on the old, old Star-Gets-Stuck scenario: A flu-stricken Wood (Burt Reynolds) goes outside to get the paper, finds himself locked out and gets stuck trying to climb in the bathroom window.

How many similar situations can you remember?

There's the old "I Love Lucy" when Lucy (Lucille Ball) got stuck in a porthole on an ocean liner, for example.

How about when Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) stuck her big toe in the faucet of a hotel bathtub on "The Dick Van Dyke Show?"

And maybe the classic tight place plot, dramatized in both a Disney feature film and the Saturday morning TV series, is when "Winnie the Pooh" bloated up on Rabbit's honey and got wedged climbing out his window.

* I think you may never see . . . a show as lovely as "In Celebration of Trees" (with apologies to Joyce Kilmer).

The nice new nature documentary with an arboreal cast is the latest "Discovery Special," premiering at 9 tonight on the Maryland-based Discovery Channel of basic cable service.

Cinematographer/director Al Giddings, whose past work has been done under water ("The Abyss," "The Deep"), takes viewers on a pretty tour of the surprisingly varied world of what might be called "the single symbol of life on Earth."

Trees are the tallest and oldest living things on the planet. They play a vital role in all life, and not only through the familiar oxygen-producing cycle of photosynthesis.

For example, they are a dwelling place for countless creatures, and continue to play that role even after their death.

And since humankind's arrival on the planet, objects made of wood have given us "gifts from the forest," as illustrated by a nice segment on stringed-instrument makers.

"With each passing day, sadly, we have far less to celebrate," the show notes, however, in a fairly cursory acknowledgment of the environmental threats to the nation's forests.

* Maryland Public Television is planning in the spring to launch a new public affairs program for distribution on the PBS network, with a singular slant on events: an all-female cast of commentators.

"On the Contrary," due in April, is to be hosted by Bonnie Erbe, legal affairs correspondent for Mutual/NBC radio. Panelists lined include Maureen Reagan, National Public Radio correspondent Nina Totenberg and one-time Maryland congressional candidate Linda Chavez.

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