Documentaries, biographies dominate

TODAY'S TV

March 16, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

The majority of the action tonight is in the nonfiction area. ABC's "Turning Point" and CBS' "48 Hours" fight for viewers in prime time, while independent TV and cable offerings include biographical portraits of Oskar Schindler, Harold Lloyd and Elvis Presley.

* "Turning Point" (10-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Last week it was Charles Manson and company, in a "Turning Point" hour that profiled some of the killers on a murder spree. This week it was supposed to be a profile of the victims of a killer on a murder spree in Gainesville, Fla. (what range; what variety), but ABC will show that episode March 23, due to a delay in the sentencing of the killer. Tonight, the network presents instead a story about sextuplets. ABC.

* "48 Hours: 'Behind the Blue Line' " (10-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- This "48 Hours" episode doesn't even try to hide its twin inspirations, "Hill Street Blues" and "COPS." Like the former, it has a roll call sergeant telling officers to "be careful out there." Like the latter, it hangs out with cops -- this time in South Central Los Angeles -- and tags along on their daily rounds, complete with computerized blurring of certain faces, night chases, prostitution stings and angry confrontations. All is interesting; little, if any, is original. CBS.

Cable

* "Schindler" (8-10 p.m., WPIX) -- In 1983, England's Thames Television produced a documentary about Oskar Schindler. Now that Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" has made Oskar almost as familiar a movie name as Oscar, WPIX is repeating the documentary. In hindsight, it's fascinating not only for its story --

with visuals that are, at times, horrific -- but because it offers a chance to see what elements of the real story were used, and ignored, in the making of the movie.

* "Civil War Journal" (8-9 p.m., A&E) -- I wanted more information about this biography of Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson, but the network "Stonewalled" me.

* "Harold Lloyd: the Third Genius" (8-9:45 p.m., MAX) -- This is an artistic biography in both senses of the word: It's a biography of a true artist (silent film comic Lloyd) and is itself an artistic work. For movie fans, it's a VCR Alert.

* "Champions on Ice" (9-11 p.m., USA) -- Still want skating? Here's an exhibition taped last November -- which means you can watch Tonya Harding, among others, skating and competing pre-controversy.

* "Elvis '56" (10-11 p.m., DIS) -- Elvis at his youngest and best, in a documentary that tracks his rise, and rock music's as well. Terrific stuff.

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