Harrowing Vietnam battle revisited

TODAY'S TV

January 10, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Contributing Writer

So far, this is the busiest TV night of the year, so let's get right to it:

* "Day One" (8-9 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- "They Were Young and Brave" is the title of tonight's hourlong report, which correspondent Forrest Sawyer co-wrote with producer Terence Wrong. It revisits a particularly harrowing battle from the early days of the Vietnam War, and keeps surprising, and shocking, with the twists and turns in the narrative. Mr. Sawyer accompanies some of the few survivors, from both sides of the war, who return to the battlefield and talk about the horrors. Best segment: a piece of news footage in which Gen. William Westmoreland visits the survivors, a week or so after the battle, to honor them as victorious heroes. ABC.

* "Dark Reflection" (8-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- The biggest name involved with this new Fox movie is behind the scenes: Kiefer Sutherland, who serves as co-executive producer. C. Thomas Howell stars in twin roles -- or, technically, as clone roles, playing a man and his seemingly exact double. Lisa Zane, as the wife, is largely wasted, and as the plot gets thicker, so do the cliches. Fox.

* "Murder Between Friends" (9-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- A murder docudrama that begins with discussion of a "baseball bat bludgeoning" seems like a good bet to avoid, but the performances are way above par here, especially those by Stephen Lang and Timothy Busfield. Mr. Lang plays a man who calls for help from a bloody crime scene, and Mr. Busfield plays the prosecuting attorney who comes to find more and more holes in the man's story. NBC.

* "Columbo: Butterfly in Shades of Grey" (9-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- William Shatner guest stars as a Rush Limbaugh-type radio star who kills a colleague and expects to talk his way out of it. Mr. Shatner plays the role in pompous overdrive, but that may actually be a conscious choice this time. Peter Falk steals his own show by doing nothing more elaborate than drinking a cup of tea. ABC.

* "American Playhouse: 'Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City' " (9-11 p.m., 10-midnight, channels 22 and 67) -- Part 1 of 3. This period character study, set in the disco-era mid-'70s, is like a soap opera with a sense of humor, played in fast forward, and with Olympia Dukakis and Chloe Webb as two standouts. PBS.

* "Northern Exposure" (10-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- This series has established, by now, its own historical precedent for a rather fanciful idea: that the Aurora Borealis flares up each year and sparks some paranormal event. This year the residents of Cicely begin "swapping dreams," the most eye-opening of which takes the foot-fetish dreams of Maurice (Barry Corbin) and reveals them to one of the town's gay residents. CBS.

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