Two movies tonight are unsatisfying


May 02, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

It's not the best bet tonight, but it's certainly the most noteworthy: Peter Falk stars in a new "Columbo" telemovie that bears less resemblance to "Columbo" than it does to "Baretta."

* "Moment of Truth: Cradle of Conspiracy" (9-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Danica McKellar, the latest child star to attempt the transition to more mature roles, plays a 17-tear-old girl who falls .. in love with a dashing young man (Kurt Deutsch) and gets pregnant. The catch is, he only wants her for the baby, which he plans to kidnap and sell. Mr. Deutsch, Ms. McKellar and Dee Wallace Stone, who plays her concerned mother, all perform nicely, but there's nothing special, or even particularly good, about this telemovie's story or presentation. There. That's MY moment of truth. NBC.

* "Columbo: Undercover" (9-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- I adore "Columbo," the series and the character, which is why this particular installment is so baffling and disappointing. The decision to buy the rights to several Ed McBain novels, and adapt them so that Peter Falk could star in them for "Columbo," has never seem more misguided than in tonight's mystery, where the killer is kept secret until the end, and Columbo adopts various disguises to collect pieces of a puzzle (literally as well as figuratively). Mr. Falk is fun to watch, as always, and there's a nice (though brief) appearance by Tyne Daly, but with the high profile by other police colleagues, the tough-guy dialogue and the potpourri of supporting players, this really isn't a "Columbo" at all -- and, with Columbo using disguises, isn't even true to the character as we know him. Why, after 23 years, should this old dog be using new tricks, when he's had a perfect track record relying only on intelligence and persistence? ABC.

* "Northern Exposure" (10-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- TV weddings in May are par for the course, but this one's different: It's between two men, this show's longtime companions Erick (Don R. McManus) and Ron (Doug Ballard). CBS.


* "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (9-10:20 p.m., Disney) -- This is the 1956 version starring Kevin McCarthy. It's worth seeing, but what's really interesting is that this movie is shown tonight on the Disney Channel -- hardly what would seem to be an ideal marriage.

* "The Road to Hong Kong" (1:30-3:30 a.m., TNT) -- Here's the answer to a question that isn't asked as often as it should be: Which of the Bing Crosby-Bob Hope "Road" pictures co-starred Joan Collins? This movie was made in 1962 -- and also features, in a brief but funny appearance, Peter Sellers.

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