Sinatra's 'Duets' succeeds musically

TODAY'S TV

November 25, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and you know what that means. For the next month, TV schedules will be overloaded with Christmas and other holiday specials. Tonight's best bet, though, is one on CBS in which Frank Sinatra sings the same songs, though not at the same time, as a new roster of guest

collaborators.

* "Disney's Greatest Hits on Ice" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 11) -- And Nancy Kerrigan thought just being in the Mickey Mouse parade at Disney World was corny. Tonight she plays Snow White and skates to a song from "The Lion King." Not that we need any more ice-skating specials this season, but this one sounds almost entertaining. Also on the bill: Katarina Witt as Mary Poppins. CBS.

* "Beethoven" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 45) -- Two years ago, Charles Grodin starred in this comedy film, but lost title billing to a drooling St. Bernard. Now Mr. Grodin is about to be host of a new CNBC talk show named after him. His career isn't going to the dogs, but from them. Fox.

* "Baltimore Symphony: The Tokyo Concert" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channels 22, 67) -- Maryland Public Television brings the BSO's Far East tour to Baltimore viewers in this concert performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the orchestra, under music director David Zinman, in Tokyo's stellar Suntory Hall. (An encore of the program will air Sunday at 10 p.m.) PBS.

* "Sinatra Duets" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., Channel 11) -- Frank Sinatra's new "Duets" album, like his last one, is an engineering marvel that makes the vocal collaboration a disconcertingly disembodied event: Mr. Sinatra records his vocals first, after which the guest artists overlay their own contributions at a separate time and studio. Therefore, a lot of these people who talk of "singing with" Mr. Sinatra actually are singing along with hisrecordings, something they could do at home. Visually, this -- presents an insurmountable challenge for the producers of this special, who use everything from split screen to video montages to dodge the fact that these performances were recorded separately. But the music holds up, of course, and "Sinatra Duets" also includes generous samplings of film and TV clips in which Mr. Sinatra sings real duets in real time with the likes of Elvis Presley, Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore and Jimmy Durante. CBS.

Cable

* "Dennis Miller" (10 p.m.-10:30 p.m., HBO) -- One of Miller's best shows this season was when he invited Robin Williams on as a guest and just burned through about two hours' worth of material in a half-hour show. Tonight's show probably will have a slower pace but will be no less interesting: Mr. Miller's guest is Jerry Seinfeld.

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