New channel, series have sports at core

TODAY'S TV

October 01, 1993|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Contributing Writer

As we inch closer to the horizon of that 200-channel universe, one more new cable network joins the pack tonight: ESPN2, a second 24-hour all-sports channel. And don't give up on the one-hour drama series just yet: NBC's new series, "Against the Grain," is just fine.

* "Against the Grain" (8-9 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- This series, about a new high-school football coach, is a delightful sleeper: It's got good character development, small surprises, a soundtrack that includes acoustic guitar and the Traveling Wilburys' "Rattled," solid football action, fine performances all the way down the line (especially by Michael Warren, Wayne Knight and Stephen Tobolowski as the coach's old friends, and Donna Bullock as his wife), and, in series star John Terry, a major find. Consider it a football version of "The White Shadow" -- it's that good. NBC.

* "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr" (8-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Even though Fox canceled "Flying Blind" and "The Ben Stiller Show" last season, this year it's got a better fix on which cult shows to keep. It's already ordered enough episodes of this quirky Western to carry it to the end of the season -- which is a good starting place to extend the "County" line. Fox.

* "The Secrets of Lake Success" (9-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- "I don't want to sleep my way to the middle," complains Decker (Rebeccah Bush), the leading dragon lady on this tacky new NBC miniseries. It's awful, but not quite as laughable as its "Trade Winds" predecessor. If you're waiting for Valerie Perrine in this one, be patient: She doesn't show until next week. NBC.

* "Bill Moyers' Journal" (9-10 p.m., WMPT, channel 22 and 67) -- From 1972-76, and again from 1979-81, Mr. Moyers presided over this PBS magazine series. In its variety and intelligence, it served as the blueprint for much of what Mr. Moyers has done since -- and this return to form of his early PBS triumph, is a welcome regular addition to the PBS schedule. Mr. Moyers' first subject and guest: Attorney General Janet Reno, whom Moyers interviewed Wednesday. PBS.

Cable

* "Frankenweenie" (8-8:30 p.m., DIS) -- A night of off-center whimsy for Disney, with this dark little Tim Burton fable.

* "Fields of Armor" (9-10 p.m., DSC) -- This is a 12-part series about memorable battles in which armored vehicles played a large role. Consequently, a better title for this series would have been "Tanks For the Memories."

David Bianculli is the author of "Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously."

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