PBS weighs in on mammoths, violence


January 10, 1995|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

Eight months from now, Fox will broadcast this year's Emmy Awards. Tonight, network TV offers fresh episodes of two shows likely to get a lot of nominations, "Frasier" and "NYPD Blue," while PBS offers one show about woolly mammoths and another about woolly theories regarding TV and violence.

* "Nova: Mammoths of the Ice Age" (8-9 p.m., channels 22, 67) -- One of last season's "Northern Exposure" episodes dealt with the discovery of a woolly mammoth that had been exposed by a severe thaw -- and the fact that the natives treated it as a more or less common event. Tonight's "Nova," the second straight import from "sister series" "Horizon" on England's BBC, says that "Northern Exposure" may have had it more right than wrong, thanks to the discovery of "young" mammoth remains in the arctic. PBS.

* "Frasier" (9-9:30 p.m., Channel 11) -- Only a few episodes of "Frasier" have found a way to put John Mahoney, as Frasier's father, at stage center. Tonight's episode finds such a way, by making him obsessed with solving a long-unsolved mystery, even though the odds are (Robert) Stacked against him. NBC.

* "Home Improvement" (9-9:30 p.m., Channel 2) -- Jay Leno makes a cameo appearance -- but don't expect a "guest star" Emmy nomination for his work here. ABC.

* "The Women of Spring Break" (9-11 p.m., Channel 13) -- What an awful, boring, pointless telemovie. How this was sold, why it was made, and why CBS is bothering to schedule it at all is beyond me. The concept is that three women -- played by Shelley Long, DeLane Matthews and Mel Harris -- decide to return to the Florida town of "Paradise" to relive their youthful memories of spring break. Forget that most of the footage is of the wrong ocean and coast (it was filmed in San Diego). Just watch the first five minutes, if you must, and you'll get a very good idea of how very bad this is. Avoid at all costs. CBS.

* "Frontline: Does TV Kill?" (9-10:30 p.m., channels 22, 67) -- No. But sometimes it bores, and this documentary achieves that unintended, unwanted result most of the time. If watching other people watch TV most of the time is your idea of entertainment, or if listening to questionable conclusions about TV's impact is your idea of science, this show's for you. But TV deserves a better hearing, and show, than this, and "Frontline" should have provided it. PBS.

* "The John Larroquette Show" (9:30-10 p.m., Channel 11) -- John (John Larroquette) finds an image of Jesus' face on the bus-station wall. Given the location, I wonder if they'll transfer it to cloth and call it the Shroud of Tourin'. NBC.

* "NYPD Blue" (10-11 p.m., Channel 2) -- Among tonight's guest stars is Joe Pantoliano, a character actor who's always worth watching. ABC.

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