ABC has the best of three new movies


April 25, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

Three telemovies will premiere tonight, which is one reason why TV critics are so fond of "Monday Night Football." -- at least during the season, ABC hasn't joined Fox and NBC in the Monday-movie sweepstakes. Tonight, though, ABC has Rebecca De Mornay in the best telemovie of the three, while Fox has John Candy both appearing in and directing a telemovie that marked his directorial debut -- and, due to his sudden death, his finale. Also tonight: Tom Snyder on "Late Show With David Letterman," one that Joe Franklin would say was "one for the archives."

* "Hostage for a Day" (8-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- John Candy directed this comedy-drama, and could have starred in it, too. George Wendt plays the leading role instead, of a man so immersed in a bad marriage (to status-crazy Robin Duke) that he kidnaps himself to raise ransom money and start a new life. The hallucinatory subplot is unnecessary, but the usage of several "Second City" alumni is welcome (Mr. Candy plays a bearded terrorist), and both Mr. Candy and Mr. Wendt take the main character's angst quite seriously. Fox.

* "Web of Deception" (9-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- A forensic psychiatrist (Powers Boothe) and his wife (Pam Dawber) have their lives ripped apart by a literal fatal attraction: a woman (Lisa Collins) who kills herself over her obsession for him, yet frames him for her death. The stalking and, especially, the suicide are more surprising than what comes afterward. NBC.

* "Getting Out" (9-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Both Ms. De Mornay and Ellen Burstyn, as an ex-con daughter and her angry mother, turn in potent performances here, in this new dramatization of Marsha Norman's 1977 play. Ms. De Mornay gets the bulk of the screen time, and delivers one of her strongest and most nuanced portrayals to date. This telemovie gives her an awful lot to do, and she does it brilliantly, but not excessively. ABC.

* "Northern Exposure" (10-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- A visiting violinist, played by Simon Templeton, is speechless when he hears of Maurice's plans for a priceless Guarnerius. What's the matter? Cat gut your tongue? CBS.

* "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Mr. Snyder, the former king of late-late night TV, visits Mr. Letterman, who held the title after Mr. Snyder, and now holds the title of late-night king. Will these two work in tandem on some future CBS lineup? The answer might well depend, in part, on how they interact tonight. CBS executives will be watching; you should be, too. CBS.


* "Buy Me That 3!" (1-1:30 p.m., HBO) -- VCR Alert: Tape this Consumer Reports special, which explains and explodes TV advertising claims, and show it to your kids. They'll love it, and they'll be a lot more savvy about not believing what they see and hear on TV.

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