Fox is juggling shows in search of audience


On The Weekend Watch:

A FOXY MOVE -- The new Fox series this fall have not exactly made a big splash, so the network is apparently trying to find viewers for some shows via the old ploy of schedule tampering. Tonight, for example (8:30, Channel 45), the mildly diverting "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" has an episode in the "Simpsons" former slot, then comes back on Sunday in its regular 8:30 slot. "Babes," displaced tonight, comes back next Thursday.

THE PROMOTIONAL GAME -- Never doubt that TV is primarily a marketing medium. And here's a triple-play example of how it works: A young comedian named Franklin Ajaye has a cable comedy special this week (at 11 p.m. Friday on Showtime). Prominent politician Jesse Jackson also has a talk show (at midnight Sunday, Channel 2). Hence, both get their plugs on Friday's edition of "Tim & Daphne" (at 11 a.m., Channel 2). Ah, but this is a new show, too, produced here and currently airing here in test marketing. So stars Tim and Daphne Maxwell Reid popped up Wednesday on "CBS This Morning" to promote themselves.

THE MOVIE MARQUEE -- Here's a VCR alert: Three genuine classics of the American cinema are getting local airings in the coming days, and one will even be seen "clean" (without commercials). At noon on Friday, "The Caine Mutiny" is on Channel 45, with Humphrey Bogart as the creepy Capt. Queeg and Van Johnson as the executive officer who challenges him. At 11 p.m. Friday on Maryland Public Television (channels 22 and 67) comes an uninterrupted screening of "The Grapes of Wrath," which has to be on anyone's list of the 10 best American films ever. Director John Ford and actress Jane Darwell (Ma Joad) won Oscars for the 1940 film. And at 4 p.m. Sunday on Channel 54, the sweeping "Dr. HD gets a four-hour screening, diminished considerably on the small screen but still among the most popular films ever.

A FUNNY FIND -- Remember "Monty Python's Flying Circus?" Something of the manic comedy troupe's irreverence, along with a droll disdain stemming from his relative age, characterizes the comedy of Britisher Alexei Sayle, whose "Alexei Sayle's Stuff" gets a final outing on MPT at 11 p.m. Saturday. Here's hoping he returns soon.

THE SUNDAY SWEEPS -- It's a tough choice at 9 p.m. Sunday, the traditional weekly feature bout during a ratings month. Two new movies are up against a charming theatrical hit from 1987. On ABC (Channel 13), John Ritter and Richard Thomas star in "Stephen King's 'It'." On NBC, Cheryl Ladd and Doug Sheehan star in "Crash: The Mystery of Flight 1501," a fictional account of an airline disaster. And on CBS, Cher and Nicholas Cage star in "Moonstruck."

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