Series break doldrums, but little ground

TODAY'S TV

September 15, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

It's a very active TV night, with premieres of three new series. The dog days of summertime TV are over.

* "ABC Afterschool Special: Boys Will Be Boys" (4 p.m.-5 p.m., Channel 13) -- This show should have been pushed into prime time to reach a greater audience, because it handles its issue, the definition of sexual harassment in the schools, quite capably. Ami Dolenz stars as a high-schooler defamed, and embarrassed, by graffiti and innuendo. ABC.

* "My So-Called Life" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 13) -- This is the first episode I haven't seen in advance, which makes me anticipate it more. Great show. ABC.

* "Due South" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 11) -- This is a repeat of the unexpectedly entertaining 1994 made-for-tv movie pilot starring Paul Gross as a straight-arrow Canadian Mountie in Chicago. Next week: The series premiere. CBS.

* "The Martin Short Show" (8:30 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 2) -- When a new series premieres without a preview, it almost invariably spells trouble -- which is too bad, because with Martin Short and Jan Hooks playing a husband-and-wife TV variety team, and with both domestic and show-within-a-show comedy presented as part of the mix, this could be some delightful combination of "Your Show of Shows," "SCTV" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Or it could merely be wretched. I'll be watching tonight; decide for yourself whether you should be, too. NBC.

* "McKenna" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 13) -- This one I have seen in advance, and you shouldn't. Chad Everett stars as a rugged-terrain outfitter and guide whose prodigal son (Eric Close) returns to help him greet, aid and rescue Pacific Northwest visitors. The script is hopelessly hokey -- like an episode of "Lassie" without the dog. ABC.

* "New York Undercover" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 45) -- This episode actually was the show's original pilot, even though it's televised as the second installment of the series. Boring but true. Fox.

* "Sweet Justice" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., Channel 2) -- Cicely Tyson, by just winning an Emmy for "The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," gave a big boost to this show, which may now be sampled by people whose TV memories aren't long enough to recall Ms. Tyson's stunning work, 20 years ago, in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman." Yet here she co-stars with Melissa Gilbert, who has much more screen time in the pilot, and this first show is a courtroom drama no more unusual or ambitious than your average "Matlock." Ms. Tyson deserves better. NBC.

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