All of tonight's magic isn't by Copperfield

TODAY'S TV

May 12, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

Tonight it's not a matter of what to watch, but which to watch. Head-to-head competition includes ABC's "The Stand," PBS' "Prime Suspect 3" and NBC's "Seinfeld" and "Frasier."

* "PrimeTime Live." (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- The show is presented two hours earlier than usual tonight, but there's no need to dispatch an investigative team to unearth the reason: It's so ABC can make its final "Stand." ABC.

* "David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic." (8 p.m.-10 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- The opening of this retrospective special is nicely evocative, and without dialogue. Claudia Schiffer, Mr. Copperfield's real-life fiancee, walks into a room loaded with curios. She finds a toy monkey, winds it, and a secret passageway opens. She becomes "the reporter" interviewing Mr. Copperfield about his life and career, and he's flanked by TV sets and film projections that replay his greatest feats of illusion. CBS.

* "The Simpsons." (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- In-laws in love: Marge's mom falls in love with Homer's dad. Even for a cartoon family, it sounds like a strange relationship, but everything's relative. Fox.

* "Seinfeld." (9 p.m.-9:30 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- The "Seinfeld" crew goes into the woods -- at least, into the Hamptons -- for a relaxing weekend that turns out, not surprisingly, to be less than relaxing. NBC.

* "Stephen King's 'The Stand.' " (9 p.m.-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Part 4 of 4. Yes, the ending is a bit strained, as are some of the actions by the supporting characters in this final installment. But the ride is a fun one, and Ray Walston and Gary Sinise alone make it worth watching. ABC.

* "Mystery!: 'Prime Suspect 3.' " (9 p.m.-10 p.m., WMPT, channels 22 and 67) -- Part 3 of 4. In terms of quality and performances, it's no contest: "The Stand" may be more fun, but "Prime Suspect 3" is more engaging, intelligent and well-acted. Helen Mirren stars. PBS.

* "Frasier." (9:30 p.m.-10 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Another first-run, brilliantly funny episode of "Frasier," one that, for the second week in a row, finds a way to get Niles (David Hyde Pierce) into his elder brother's broadcast booth. Kelsey Grammer stars, and when he and his TV "little brother" share the screen, it's comedy magic. NBC.

* "L. A. Law." (10 p.m.-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- With "L. A. Law," there's a sense of closure in more ways than one: The last episodes, like the first, are having most fun with Corbin Bernsen's Arnie Becker. NBC.

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