Choices vary from Rudolph to Madonna


November 29, 1994|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

The networks are trying almost anything tonight to get you to tune in. CBS has a bionic reunion telemovie, ABC has a double dose of Abandandos, and Fox has a faux Madonna.

* "Wings" (8-8:30 p.m., Channel 2) -- Robert Culp guest-stars as a former astronaut being considered as a spokesman for the airline -- until his cockpit behavior is revealed to include some startlingly unprofessional stunts. Not stunts of aerial derring-do, but of juvenile derring-don'ts, such as giving your co-pilot a "wet willie." NBC.

* Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (8-9 p.m., Channel 11) -- Yes, it's the classic about what happens when you don't let a misfit join in any reindeer games, with Burl Ives narrating as a holly jolly snowman. CBS.

* "Madonna: Innocence Lost" (8-10 p.m., Channel 45) -- Terumi Matthews turns in a strong central performance as Madonna, but the script is weak, it stops just as she attains stardom (making her ruthless search for celebrity a sort of "Half About Eve"), and, for an unauthorized biography, it misses a lot of the juicy stuff, including any mention of her featured role in the low-budget 1981 film "A Small Sacrifice," which included group sex, toplessness and sexual domination. "Madonna: Innocence Lost" is better than either of the recent Roseanne TV bios, but that's like comparing bad apples to rotten oranges. Wendie Malick of "Dream On" has a small and thankless supporting role. Fox.

* "Nova: Buried in Ash" (8-9 p.m., channels 22, 67) -- This "Nova" gets back to basics, and back to science, and emerges with a fascinating episode. It's about Mike Voohies, a paleontologist who struck gold -- in the form of fossil-preserving volcanic ash -- in his home state of Nebraska, even though the prehistoric ash probably came from a volcano 1,000 miles away in Idaho. Compared to that, he says, "Mount St. Helens was no more than a little puffball." He called the site Ashfall, and, incredibly, found scores of complete skeletons, everything from three-toed horses to a herd of ancient rhinos. "It looks," says one scientist on the dig, obviously touched by his discovery, "like the baby rhinos were trying to nurse even after the mothers had died." The thrill of scientific discovery: This is what "Nova" is all about. PBS.

* "Bionic Ever After?" (9-11 p.m., Channel 11) -- What do you get when you cross the $6 million man with the bionic woman? A pair of cybores. Lindsay Wagner, Lee Majors star. CBS.

* "Frasier" (9-9:30 p.m., Channel 2) -- Maris, the wife of Niles (David Hyde Pierce), undergoes cosmetic surgery. To viewers, though, she'll look the same: unseen, as always. NBC.

* "NYPD Blue" (10-11 p.m., Channel 13) -- Donna Abandando (Gail O'Grady) gets some rivalry tonight, and it's sibling: Her sister Dana (Debra Messing) visits the precinct and gets more attention than Donna would like. ABC.

* "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m., Channel 11) -- The scheduled guest tonight is Roseanne. Enough said -- for now.

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