Nonfiction dominates the air tonight

TODAY'S TV

November 03, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

The fall after Hurricane Andrew devastated parts of South Florida, NBC came up with the presumably clever idea of having the same hurricane "hit" its Saturday-night sitcoms, all set in Miami, so that the same event could befall the characters on "The Golden Girls," "Nurses" and "Empty Nest." Creatively, it was a washout Saturday, but ratings were high, so tonight NBC gives it another shot on another night -- with blackout Thursday.

The idea is that Jamie, on "Mad About You," causes a New York blackout that also affects the Big Apple characters of "Friends" and "Madman of the People," but not "Seinfeld." Viewers are encouraged, strongly, to stay tuned throughout -- but not by me. When "Madman" comes around, my advice is to create your own blackout, and pull the plug. As for the other electricity-obsessed NBC shows tonight, they're worth keeping an ion.

* "Mad About You" (8 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Channel 2) -- In hopes of tapping into cable illegally, Jamie (Helen Hunt) becomes a fiddler on the roof, pulls the wrong wire and causes a massive blackout. Why not? In the '70s, it was a faulty $2 relay that did the same thing. NBC.

* "Friends" (8:30 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 2) -- The blackout hits the city in "Friends," too -- the power failure traps Chandler (Matthew Perry) in the same ATM vestibule as model Jill Goodacre. This, I suppose, is what's known as a power meeting. NBC.

* "Seinfeld" (9 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Channel 2) -- "Seinfeld" and its writer-producers declined to play along with NBC's power-failure gimmick tonight. More power to them. Instead, we get the usual unusual plots, including some obsessive reactions to Kramer's new 3-D poster. Michael Richards plays Kramer. NBC.

* "Chicago Hope" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 11) -- When Margaret Colin made her first appearance on this series, as a visiting doctor in the pilot, she may not have expected to appear so many subsequent times in a recurring role. Tonight she may be surprised again: In tonight's show, her character goes through more change than many regular series characters get to experience in a season. CBS.

* "Madman of the People" (9:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 2) -- Cynthia Gobb's Meg, gets trapped in an elevator -- while Dabney Coleman, as the Madman, gets tossed in jail. Talk about a dark day. NBC.

* "ER" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., Channel 2) -- The lights are on in the "ER," which is reason enough to watch. Another reason, among the many other fast-moving subplots: Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) deals with a spinal tap, and I'm not referring to the mock music group. This is the show's first original episode since landing the Newsweek cover. NBC.

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