One more time, and maybe the last

TODAY'S TV

March 15, 1995|By David Bianculli | David Bianculli,Special to The Sun

That smell in the air is the first whiff of network panic. Although fall TV schedules won't be set for a month or more, these are the times that try men's souls -- or, at least, the times when the men and women in the corporate programming departments frantically shuffle programs to eke out every bit of possible information about which shows it should renew and dump. Tonight's lineup, therefore, features a lot of last-gasp efforts, including the season finales of "Party of Five," "Northern Exposure" and a sitcom.

* "The George Wendt Show" (8-8:30 p.m., Channel 13) -- Yeah, like I'm sure this happens to the "Car Talk" National Public Radio guys a lot: George (George Wendt) and Dan (Pat Finn) get hit on by phone-in car-repair-show groupies, one of whom is played by the attractive Jessica Tuck. CBS.

* "All-American Girl" (8:30-9 p.m., Channel 2) -- When this series premiered, the time slot suggested that it couldn't miss, but it may have. This is the last scheduled show of the season, and there's no guarantee of additional episodes. Notice, though, that this episode retools the show in a blatant desperation ploy and establishes Margaret (Margaret Cho) with peer roommates instead of her extended family. ABC.

* "The Greatest Commercials Ever Made" (9-10 p.m., Channel 13) -- Why one more commercial clip show? Because this one is more historical, critical and comprehensive than most. Try it; you'll like it. CBS.

* "Party of Five" (9-10 p.m., Channel 45) -- This is the season finale of "Party of Five," one show that Fox fans can count on being renewed for the fall. Fox has learned to be patient with its youth-appeal drama series. Neither "Beverly Hills, 90210" nor "Melrose Place" started out strong, but now they are among the network's most popular and durable series. Fox.

* "Northern Exposure" (10-11 p.m., Channel 13) -- Another NPR tie-in of sorts: Ruth-Anne (Peg Phillips) becomes a radio star in her own right, writing and broadcasting "Tales of Cicely" for National Public Radio. It's interesting that this is a topic for what may be the final show of this series, because it's been charged, in some circles, that "Northern Exposure" owes at least part of its inspiration to a real-life Alaskan radio storyteller -- Tom Bodett, now the Motel 6 ad guy. CBS.

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