TV sweeps produce yet another wedding

May 14, 1992|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

It's not June yet, but brides continue to parade down the television aisles as season-ending series episodes and sweeps ratings month converge.

So far, the spring splicings have included Fontana Beausoleil on "Evening Shade," Dorothy on "The Golden Girls," Paige on "Life Goes On," Jackie on "Beverly Hills 90210" and Eve on "Northern Exposure."

And in hour-long season finales of two NBC programs tonight, the brides include Whitley on "A Different World" and Kelly on "Cheers" (at 8 and 9 o'clock, on WMAR-Channel 2).

The network is cautioning TV writers to refrain from revealing the ending of "A Different World," for suspense lingers over the ongoing plot line in which Whitley (Jasmine Guy) and previous fiance Dwayne (Kadeem Hardison) have parted ways.

Will she or won't she marry her rich new beau, state senator Byron (Joe Morton)? It would not be fair to say, but it is safe to say most viewers are likely to find the episode predictable.

In fact, this series that spun off from "The Cosby Show" and later developed its own interesting identity (after Lisa Bonet returned to the parent show), actually plays like a very familiar form of drama.

Tonight's season-ender is essentially a comedy of manners and class.

And while the series features a black cast, its focus is not so much racial as social, treating the stresses that come when any people climbs upward in wealth and pretension.

For the crux of the drama rests on the fact that affluently raised Whitley has finally pleased her hopelessly snobbish mother (Diahann Carroll) by dumping the coarser Dwayne in favor of the advantaged Byron.

Her father (Ron O'Neal) tells Whitley he's proud of her, and she replies, "I haven't done anything to be proud of."

"Of course you have. You are marrying a man who can support you," snaps her mother, who dreams of her daughter being first lady, and also recalls meeting Dwayne's parents, whom she calls "those yahoos."

Reminders of a less refined past arise when a guest, rebuffed after offering to cater the wedding, complains, "I've won prizes for my pig's feet and fried okra."

But is the social correctness of the pairing really right for Whitley? And will she embrace the values therein, which are presented here as pretty hollow?

It's only a TV show, but the episode makes a statement.

Curiously, the wedding on "Cheers" has a similar underlying theme, although cast in mirror image and played largely for laughs.

For Kelly (Jackie Swanson) is the rich one and Woody (Woody Harrelson) the country rube, while their mutual simplicity draws them together.

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On The Weekend Watch:

THE MOVIE MARQUEE -- Kevin Costner is a pretty diffident Eliot Ness, and as a result Sean Connery steals the hit 1987 movie "The Untouchables" right out from under him. The film on ABC (Channel 13) tonight at 8:30 violently re-creates the Prohibition scenes of the old TV series. Brutally bloody in theaters, it will be toned down some for TV.

On a completely different level, John Candy as a furry sidekick is the funniest thing about "Spaceballs," Mel Brooks' 1987 spoof of the "Star Wars" epic, which gets a 6 p.m. screening Sunday on Channel 54.

ON THE MARCH -- Channel 11 anchors Rod Daniels and Carolyn McEnrue do the commentary on live coverage Friday of the "1992 Preakness Celebration Parade," marching from the Fifth Regiment Armory to the Inner Harbor.

The broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. and includes aerial shots from the Goodyear blimp.

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A SEASON ENDS -- The quality NBC series "I'll Fly Away" offers a two-hour season finale on Friday, which includes a tantalizing job offer for Forrest (Sam Waterston) and family trouble for Lily (Regina Taylor).

But viewers should note that Orioles baseball is scheduled on Channel 2, which therefore plans to air the show at noon on Sunday. (The episode can be seen by some viewers as scheduled on Washington's Channel 4.)

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ON THE TRACK -- The 117th running of Baltimore's premiere horse race, "The Preakness Stakes," takes over "ABC's Wide World of Sports," at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Channel 13). It's ABC's 16th consecutive year of coverage, and commentator/Maryland horse breeder Jim McKay will anchor the broadcast team with Al Michaels. Post time is about 5:30 p.m.

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LAUGHING FOR DOLLARS -- As usual Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams on Saturday present the top names in comedy in "Comic Relief V." The annual live fund-raiser for the homeless, from the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, begins at 9 p.m. on the HBO premium cable service, but all cable systems are being given the opportunity, also as usual, to open the signal so that all cable viewers can watch and participate in the telephone pledge program.

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A NEW MINISERIES -- Brian Dennehy stars as Chicago mass killer John Wayne Gacy in "To Catch A Killer," a new miniseries which is airing unusually on independent stations. Locally, Channel 54 is running the program in one four-hour sitting, beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday. Margot Kidder co-stars as a psychic who provides clues to the serial slayer's whereabouts.

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