Finally, Harding and Kerrigan, Part 1


February 23, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

What's worth watching tonight? You tell me -- because you already know. The actual first round of what's been pumped up by the media as Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan is televised today. Whether either ends up contending for a medal, with the finals coming Friday, is oddly secondary to how they will stand up (or fall down) against one another. It's overly hyped, it's a bit unfair to the other competitors, and it's virtually required viewing.

* "The 1994 Winter Olympic Games" (7-9 a.m., 8-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11; 1-6 p.m., TNT) -- Here's what we know: In the women's technical program being skated today, Ms. Harding will be the eighth skater to take the ice, and Ms. Kerrigan will be 26th out of 27 competitors. Here's what we don't know: How much, or how little, information will be provided during the morning and afternoon telecasts. Expect results and rankings to be leaked gingerly, with even more care than CBS and TNT have been providing to give viewers time to look away from the screen. Also, expect rival news organizations (including the TV tabloid shows) to report results and standings as quickly as they can, partly to dilute the impact of CBS' time-delayed prime-time broadcast. However, since CBS has paid for exclusive first rights to video from the Olympics, expect mega-ratings during tonight's three prime-time hours of coverage. In addition to the genuine drama about what will happen on the ice, there's a sideshow attraction regarding CBS' coverage -- namely, to guess at what time Ms. Harding will be shown taking the ice. Given the way CBS covered Dan Jansen, my bet would be 10:40 p.m. or later, with teases and snippets in the hours leading up to it. CBS.

* "Beverly Hills, 90210" (8-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Lucinda (Dina Meyer) moves from Brandon (Jason Priestley) to Dylan (Luke Perry) in this week's episode, which also reteams Brandon and Kelly (Jennie Garth) -- sort of, anyway. Fox.

* "The Critic" (8:30-9 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- One of the guest voices on this week's show is Kimmy Robertson, who has a voice that's easy to spot: She played the police-station receptionist on "Twin Peaks." ABC.

* "Home Improvement" (9-9:30 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Here's a power shift that's worth noting: When he is guest on another TV show, Tim (Tim Allen) plays second banana to Al (Richard Karn). ABC.

* "Melrose Place" (9-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Jo (Daphne Zuniga) gets charged with murder, and Sydney (Laura Leighton) gets a charge out of getting ever closer to Michael (Thomas Calabro), using very persuasive and sadistic threats of blackmail. Fox.

* "Secrets Revealed" (10-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Here's one secret that's not revealed in this special: Why is the network putting it on the air in the first place, particularly now? Well, listen closely, because here's the secret. To paraphrase the Clinton campaign, "It's the Olympics, stupid." ABC.

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