Benny tribute needs more Jack

Today's TV

November 30, 1995|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Don't you wish that, instead of airing tributes to TV stars of old, the networks would simply air an episode or two of the shows that made them so great? Tonight's offerings include a perfect example of superfluous television, an hour-long tribute to Jack Benny that's not one-tenth as funny as the best of his half-hour shows.

* "Friends" (8 p.m.-8:30 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- A repeat of May's season-ender has Rachel finally discovering that Ross loves her -- only to have him find a new girlfriend before she tells him she feels the same way. Is it just me, or do the Friends all seem a lot older this year? NBC.

* "Mystery" (9 p.m.-11:30 p.m., MPT, Channels 22 and 67) -- Two episodes starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, "The Dying Detective" and "The Cardboard Box," open the British actor's final season as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation. Brett died Sept. 13 of heart failure at age 59. Personally, I prefer Basil Rathbone, but then, I've always been a sucker for black and white. PBS.

* "Kelsey Grammer Salutes Jack Benny" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Why Kelsey Grammer? Apparently because he found Jack Benny funny. But then, so did most of America, although it's a little hard to tell why based on this tribute. Sure, the bits are funny, but mainly because they remind those familiar with the original material of the extended routines. Instead of showing 10 seconds of Kirk Douglas playing the banjo, they should have shown the entire half-hour show, in which he and Benny were joined by Fred MacMurray, Dan Dailey and others in a hilarious jam session. And a computer-enhanced segment in which Mr. Grammer jokes with Benny is a complete waste of time. NBC.

Cable

* "The Making of 'Toy Story': To Infinity and Beyond" (8 p.m.-8:30 p.m., DIS) -- Although they're nothing more than half-hour commercials, these Disney "Making of " specials offer fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpses of some very talented people at work. And in this case the movie being promoted is a gem. Plus, Disney is on free preview through Monday, so just about everyone who has cable can watch this.

* "2001: A Space Odyssey" (10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., HBO) -- One of the greatest movies of the 1960s, if not of all time. Also one of the most subtle, confusing and debate-provoking. What is that big black thing, anyway? This movie should be seen on the big screen, in a darkened theater -- preferably from about the fifth row. But at least on HBO, you won't have to deal with commercials.

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