World War II miniseries falls short

TODAY'S TV

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

What's on? Not much.

* "Jacqui's Dilemma." (8-9 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Melissa Thompson portrays the title character, who sits on her bed and talks directly to the camera, just like on Nickelodeon's "Clarissa Explains It All." Except that in the non-threatening TV world of Nickelodeon, Clarissa isn't pregnant. On this "ABC Afterschool Special," moved to prime-time for maximum exposure, Jacqui is. "What would you do?" this program asks at the start. Remarks by real teens punctuate the fictional narrative; other views come from popular music, counselors, parents, doctors, religious advisers, and so on. ABC.

* "Fall From Grace." (8-10 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Part 1 of 2. After all the D-Day documentaries, here comes a drama: A two-part miniseries that, like "Winds of War," overlays fictional characters and events onto the backdrop of World War II. James Fox is a head of British intelligence and Michael York is a high-ranking Nazi. The plots and subplots are intricate and interesting, and the romance is well above "Winds of War" standards, but "Fall From Grace" plods along nonetheless. CBS.

* "PrimeTime Live." (10-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- David Brinkley's last TV newsmagazine appearance was as the host of one of NBC's string of ratings losers. Here, he lends his voice to the chorus of commentators on D-Day -- and there's every reason to believe that TV, with Brinkley, has saved the best for last. ABC.

Cable

* "Biography: 'Diana: On Her Own.' " (8-9 p.m., A&E) -- This focuses on Princess Diana's daily life since separating from the Prince of Wales.

* "The Big Carnival." (9-11 p.m., AMC) -- For those who think tabloid-style media cynicism and manipulation is a recent phenomenon, here's a 1951 drama exploring, and excoriating, the same thing. Kirk Douglas is a reporter who takes advantage of a mine cave-in, manipulating facts, and participants, to suit his stories.

* "Jackie Gleason's Cavalcade of Characters." (9-10:15 p.m., DIS) -- Had Gleason embodied and immortalized only the character of Ralph Kramden, that would have been a valuable enough contribution to TV history. But he also gave us the Poor Soul, and Reginald Van Gleason III, and lots of others -- all paraded in this sampler of Gleason's non-"Honeymooners" TV work.

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