On PBS, 'The Power of Water' and Ike


November 10, 1993|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Contributing Writer

The place to be tonight is PBS, where the nonfiction offerings are more entertaining than most of the fictional fare from the commercial networks.

* "Beverly Hills, 90210" (8-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Why is Brenda (Shannen Doherty) like an orange melon? Because she cantaloupe. At least that's the consensus from her "90210" cohorts, who embark on a mad -- to Las Vegas in hopes of stoping Brenda before she goes through with her sudden marriage to Stuart (David Gail). Fox.

* "National Geographic Special: 'The Power of Water' " (8-9 p.m., WMPT, channels 22 and 67, WETA, Channel 26) -- Delivering stirring photography and bad news from such sites as the Everglades, the Columbia River, Love Canal and the Ogallala aquifer, this "National Geographic Special" is a powerful plea for conservation and reconsideration of our aquatic resources. In other words, there water be a law. PBS.

* "The Mystery of the Sphinx" (9-10 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- This special, presented in prime time on NBC, is based on John Anthony West's book "Serpent in the Sky," which hypothesizes that Egypt's famous Sphinx is thousands of years older than generally accepted. It's an intriguing idea, but once again, an independent production takes the concept to prime time by presenting it in the most superficial and insulting manner possible. Host Charlton Heston starts out by implying the information potentially is as big a deal as heliocentrism and manned flight, and asks, just before the first commercial break, "Could the legends of Atlantis be true?" Yet instead of examining the theory objectively, "The Mystery of the Sphinx" takes one side throughout.

A "Nova" on the subject would have been a lot better, but this "Sphinx" stinx. NBC.

* "Dances With Wolves" (9-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Part 2 of 2. Kevin Costner's post-"Lonesome Dove" Western epic gets the TV treatment, with chunks of unused footage added to make it theoretically more of an event than a repeat. ABC.

* "The American Experience: 'Eisenhower' " (9- 11:30 p.m., WMPT, channels 22 and 67, and WETA, Channel 26) -- This fine PBS series already has presented fascinating multi-hour biographies on "The Kennedys," "LBJ" and "Nixon." Now, going backward through the presidential annals, it presents a hefty helping of "Eisenhower," divided into two sections (one each devoted to his military and political careers). "American Experience" host David McCullough lends his resonant voice to the documentary's narration, and the film's use of visuals, letters and interviews is both broad and tasteful. PBS.


* "Rock-a-Doodle" (8-9:20 p.m., DIS) -- Don Bluth, who produced and directed the animated "All Dogs Go to Heaven" and "The Land Before Time," mixes live action and animation to tell the story of Chanticleer, a cocky little rooster who crows like Elvis. It's not the best or most clever family feature, but if you want to gather your children together to watch "Rock-a-Doodle," do.

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