World War II docudrama remains tops

TODAY'S TV

April 20, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

The best thing on TV tonight is the same thing that was the best thing on TV last night: NBC's "World War II: When Lions Roared." Tonight's installment is a little different: It's the conclusion, not a repeat, of that four-hour miniseries.

* "Beverly Hills, 90210" (8-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Guest star Kathleen Robertson, the sweet daughter on "Maniac Mansion," portrays a different type of maniacal on tonight's "Beverly Hills, 90210." She plays a particularly determined friend of Brandon's. Fox.

* "Tom" (8:30-9 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Now you see him; soon you won't. CBS.

* "World War II: When Lions Roared" (9-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Second of two parts. My only criticism of this fine historical dramatization of the relationships among the Allied world leaders during World War II is that its ending leapfrogs from Franklin D. Roosevelt's death right to V-E day. Given that we've spent hours watching the interaction among John Lithgow's FDR, Bob Hoskins' Winston Churchill and Michael Caine's Joseph Stalin, wouldn't it have been dramatic, after FDR's death, to be able to see Harry Truman bring to the table a very different type of personality? However, the rest is so good, that's a minor complaint: "When Lions Roared" is the best behind-closed-doors docudrama since "The Missiles of October." All the leading players are superb, and it's particularly interesting that Mr. Hoskins, nine years before taking this role of Churchill, starred as Benito Mussolini in an HBO miniseries called "Mussolini: The Decline and Fall of Il Duce." How many actors can claim both Churchill and Mussolini on their resumes? NBC.

* "Melrose Place" (9-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) --Little more than a decade ago, Farrah Fawcett, who shot to stardom in Aaron Spelling's "Charlie's Angels," got good reviews for starring in the stage and film versions of "Extremities," in which she played a woman who turned the tables on an attacker and kept him prisoner in her home. On tonight's "Melrose Place," Heather Locklear, who shot to stardom in Aaron Spelling's "Dynasty" and now "Melrose Place," gets to do much the same thing in tonight's episode. Compare and contrast: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the Farrah of them all? Fox.

Cable

* "Van Gogh" (8-10:35 p.m., Cinemax) -- This is the story of some vacationers who had their recreational vehicle stolen, then asked each other, "Hey, where'd the Van Gogh?" Well, not really. It's a 1991 version of the painter's last three months of life, starring Jacques Dutronc.

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