The 1970s: bad songs then and now


November 16, 1993|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Contributing Writer

Tonight's TV is dominated by specials and special events: a fabulous three-hour "Frontline" on Lee Harvey Oswald, Part 2 of "Return to Lonesome Dove" and a two-hour nostalgia special geared to the 1970s.

* "A 70's Celebration: The Beat is Back" (8-10 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Here's the difference between the '60s, the era when baby boomers came of age, and the '70s, the "Disco Duck" decade celebrated in this slick variety special from Ken Ehrlich Productions: In the '60s, a sentence beginning "Where were you when you first heard . . ." would most likely be completed with a question about the JFK assassination. In this 70's-obsessed show, Olivia Newton-John completes the same question with ". . .the song 'Shake Your Booty'?" All the musical performers are in good voice, but most of them, except for Meat Loaf and a few others, are singing bad songs. And a "Brady Bunch" skit -- well, the word putrid springs to mind. Do you really want to watch a show where the highlight, and I'm not kidding here, is a poetry reading by Sonny Bono? NBC.

* "Frontline: 'Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?' " (9-midnight, MPT, Channels 22 and 67, and WETA, Channel 26) -- VCR Alert: Three new pieces of evidence are produced in this well-researched documentary, which follows Oswald so closely and completely in biographical form that his actions leading up to and following Dealey Plaza seem a lot less isolated. PBS.

* "Roseanne" (9-9:30 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Beginning tonight, there's a significant supporting-cast change on "Roseanne." The role of Roseanne's daughter Becky, played by Lecy Goranson before she left the series last season, now is played by Sarah Chalke. ABC.

* "Return to Lonesome Dove" (9-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- The opener ended with a literal cliffhanger, with Jon Voight's Call jumping off a tall cliff to escape certain death. In tonight's installment, he survives and fights his way back to health, but danger and death are plentiful in this gripping second chapter. CBS.

* "NYPD Blue" (10-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Finally, some potentially nongratuitous nudity: This week's episode includes an arrest at a strip joint. ABC.


* "Snowboarder Magazine" (12:30-1 a.m., ESPN) -- This brand-new weekly series about snowboarding kicks off -- or slides on -- with a premiere episode that could well be its apex. After tonight, it's all downhill.

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