'Lives in Hazard' a gritty look at gangs

TODAY'S TV

April 08, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

Here's the road map for tonight's TV viewing: Start at 8 with the fascinating realism of the NBC documentary "Lives in Hazard," switch to the spooky escapism of "The X-Files," then wrap up prime time with a fresh helping of "Picket Fences."

* "Lives in Hazard" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- According to actor Edward James Olmos, the most important thing a kid needs, in order to escape the engulfing cycle of inner-city street gangs, is a strong role model. Certainly Mr. Olmos provides one. After starring as a strong but quiet lieutenant on "Miami Vice," he played inspirational math teacher Jaime Escalante in "Stand and Deliver" and filmed a movie called American Me" using actual gang members and Folsom Prison inmates. Tonight he is executive producer and host of a new documentary that looks at East Los Angeles gang members, some of whom were featured in "American Me." At the same time he filmed that movie, he also oversaw a behind-the-scenes documentary crew, which provides much of the information and tension here (real-life gun battles between rival gang members and local police claimed the life of at least one movie "extra"). Mr. Olmos and producer-directors Andrew L. Young and Susan Todd have constructed this as a modern "Scared Straight!" -- letting everyone speak about why it's good, or bad, to play the drug and gang game. It's best of all at showing the ramifications of street violence and also shows how many stories can be captured at street level just by being there, which is something the network news departments ought to do a lot more. Highly recommended. NBC.

* "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Usually, Dixie (Kelly Rutherford) is more than enough trouble for Brisco (Bruce Campbell), but tonight we're introduced to her equally wild sister, played by guest star Elaine Hendrix. Fox.

* "Burke's Law" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Among the guest stars tonight are Linda Purl of "The Exorcist," Efrem Zimbalist Jr. of "The F.B.I." and Sherman Hemsley of "The Jeffersons." CBS.

* "The X-Files" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Brad Dourif stars as a seemingly psychic death-row inmate who, for once, sparks skepticism in Mulder (David Dochovny) and belief in Scully (Gillian Anderson). Fox repeat.

* "Picket Fences" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Richard Kiley visits Rome, Wis., portraying Jill's father. Kathy Baker stars. CBS.

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