The lives and times of JFK and Jackie O.

TODAY'S TV

November 17, 1993|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Contributing Writer

Due to a scheduling quirk, tonight's prime-time offers independent biographical looks at Jack and Jackie: a repeat of Lifetime's "Jackie Onassis: An Intimate Portrait," followed on CBS by a two-hour John F. Kennedy profile called "Jack."

* "Hearts Afire" (8-8:30 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- This is the first of the totally redesigned "Hearts Afire" episodes to center on the newsroom, setting up the format for all subsequent episodes. Which means, basically, if you don't like it tonight, chances are you never will. Markie Post, John Ritter star. CBS.

* "Jack" (9-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- If nothing else, this two-hour biography will set the stage for this weekend's "JFK: Reckless Youth," an ABC miniseries dramatizing Kennedy's formative years. Produced and directed by Nick Davis, this study comes not from CBS News, but is a CBS Entertainment Production. Proceed accordingly. CBS.

* "The American Experience: 'The Hurricane of '38' " (9:30-10:30 p.m., MPT, channels 22 and 67, and 10-11 p.m. on WETA, Channel 26) -- Here's an existential question to ponder: If one-third of all the maple trees in Vermont fall in a hurricane, yet there is no media coverage to monitor the event, did they really fall at all? The answer is yes, and this documentary explains just how a 130 mph winds could catch New England almost totally by surprise, kill hundreds of people, fell hundreds of thousands of trees and nevertheless barely register on the national news. Yet films and home movies of the storm survive and are used well here. PBS.

* "Melrose Place" (9-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- This plot line has gotten lots of press already, and tonight it arrives. This series' new major vixen, Sydney (Laura Leighton), strikes up a friendship with a beautiful woman (Kristian Alfonso, formerly of "Falcon Crest") who happens to be a Hollywood madam. Fox.

Cable

* "Jackie Onassis: An Intimate Portrait" (8-9 p.m., LIF) -- If you are going to watch the Kennedy-related programs tonight, at least they offer a basis for direct comparison. Sharon Gless is host of this look at the life of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, a documentary whose contents can be contrasted with coverage of the overlapping period on CBS's "Jack."

* "Tales From the Crypt" (10-10:30 p.m., HBO) -- Last week's episode used Nina Siemaszko, Anthony Michael Hall and Jeffrey Jones to good advantage in a grisly yet funny story about a mummy. This week's story presents another trio of actors in need of a career-boosting good role or two: Brooke Shields, Michael J. Pollard and Perry King.

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