ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* With the first California execution in 25 years in the headlines just last week (of convicted double murderer Robert Alton Harris), NBC has an unusually timely made-for-television movie tonight.
"In the Shadow of a Killer" stars Scott Bakula ("Quantum Leap") as a policeman who opposes capital punishment. And his moral stance brings him into conflict with fellow officers when he apprehends a suspect in the murder of another police officer.
Of course, things get mixed up when Bakula's character also becomes the apparent target of a mob contract.
On a less serious note, the movie also once again illustrates the cross-pollination of TV movies and series. Bakula is not the only network star featured. Lindsay Frost ("Nightmare Cafe") also has a role.
* Tonight's edition of "Murphy Brown" (9 o'clock, Channel 11) begins to set us up for the coming birth of Baby Boy Brown (due date, May 18). With Eldin (Robert Pastorelli) as her coach, Murphy (Candice Bergen) goes to childbirth school, but nearly flunks the course.
And note that behind the cameras, the episode director was Peter Bonerz, who used to be dentist Jerry on the old "Bob Newhart Show."
* Media Monitor is grateful to several callers and correspondents for giving credit where credit is due.
An item in this space last week about an edition of "Jeopardy!" including a Baltimore category edition used the descriptive phrase, "Queen City of the Patapsco basin," and attributed its source as the defunct Maryland Public Television series, "Crabs."
The credit was correct, but didn't go far enough. A character named Susie Stupak (actress Susan Duvall) did use the term in at least one heavily accented "Crabs" skit.
But correspondents report the phrase was regularly used by writer John Goodspeed, the longtime contributor of the "Mr. Peep's Diary" column in The Evening Sun and a leading compiler of local Baltimore speech pattern.
What's more, MPT sources inform that Goodspeed was also a contributor to "Crabs" in its earliest years, particularly on the peculiarities of the Bawl'merese dialect. Thus his Queen City quote merely moved into a new medium.
* You also have to give WJZ-Channel 13 credit for truth-in-advertising, for the ticket it provided to viewers who participated in Friday morning's 10th anniversary party for the "Eyewitness News Morning Edition" program, with Don Scott and Marty Bass.
"Spend two hours sitting on a hard metal folding chair and enjoy a free breakfast," the ticket said.