Thomas is no John-Boy in CBS film

TODAY'S TV

April 05, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

There's a long-awaited new series premiering tonight on Fox: "South Central," a seriocomic look at life in one of the most rugged and high-profile areas of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the pilot makes it quite clear that, despite a minority cast and a heap of good intentions, it wasn't worth the wait.

* "South Central." (8-8:30 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- This new series is called a comedy-drama, which usually means it wavers between laughs and poignancy. In the case of "South Central," however, it has a less kind meaning: The comedy isn't at all funny, and some of the dramatic portions are unintentionally amusing. The laugh track is ratcheted much too loudly, and the primary household in "South Central" includes a youngster sufficiently (and annoyingly) precocious to offer derivative variations on both "Apocalypse Now" ("Nothing gets me going like the smell of gunpowder in the morning") and "Arsenio" (firing LTC off a string of rapidly delivered, insulting adjectives). The intent is laudable here; the execution is not. Tina Lifford stars as the single mother trying to hold her family together, but, based on the pilot, it's a wasted effort. Fox.

* "To Save the Children." (9-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- It was little over a year ago that Richard Thomas, the formerly mild-mannered John-Boy Walton, sought to escape typecasting by starring as a maniacal killer in a CBS telemovie "I Can Make You Love Me: The Stalking of Laura Black." It was one of the most irredeemably violent telemovies of 1993, and now Mr. Thomas is back as another unhinged antagonist. He plays a guy who enters a public school, with a bomb as well as a rifle this time, to wreak revenge and hold all the elementary students hostage. Robert Urich co-stars as a member of the faculty, and this is supposed to be an intense but uplifting story of how a whole town bands together in hopes of averting a massacre. But it's neither intense nor uplifting, and revenge isn't the only thing here that wreaks. The script and staging are less than convincing, and Mr. Thomas, in his second annual role as a sort of John Hinckley-Boy, is in danger of being typecast all over again. CBS.

Cable

* "Fatal Bond." (8-9:30 p.m., MAX) -- The name is Bond. FATAL Bond.

* "Red Shoe Diaries." (9-10:45 p.m., SHO) -- After David Duchovny wore a dress on "Twin Peaks," but before he got the starring role on "The X-Files," he starred in this Showtime telemovie, setting the stage for the anthology series he continues to introduce. This, however, was his largest role, playing Brigitte Bako's intended husband.

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