Evans' return to TV was hyped shamefully



* Could ABC have been any more blatant in plugging actress Linda Evans' return to television in Sunday's TV movie, "I'll Take Romance?" Beyond all the pre-show promos with clips from the film, Evans popped up as a guest on "America's Funniest People," the show immediately preceding the movie. Did she mention the film? Do you have to ask?

* Is shopping really big news? We ask because local stations mobilized to cover Friday's post-Thanksgiving shopping scene as if it were a snowstorm, complete with live reports from area malls.

* Was anybody else a little startled to find Estelle Getty climbing into bed with Cesar Romero on Saturday's episode of "The Golden Girls?"

As Sophia, Getty's case of the hots for Romero's character certainly delivered the message that older people can be sexual, even though she turned out an old-fashioned girl after all -- or sort of, anyway. (She hopped out of the sack before anything happened because Romero refused to return her statement, "I love you.")

As noted by several Media Monitor correspondents in an informal taste poll earlier this fall, the NBC series continues to be among the randiest on the air.

* In another minor shocker, did you hear one of TV's most 'D wholesome moms ever utter the word "hell" yesterday? It was June Lockhart on "CBS This Morning," being interviewed in connection with a coming weekend reunion for members of the cast of the 1965-68 sci-fi series "Lost In Space." She played Maureen Robinson, mother of the marooned brood, and earlier was prominent as the farm mother on "Lassie" (from 1958 to 1965).

Talking of the auto racing uniforms that served as spacesuits in the show's cut-rate special effects budget, Lockhart told interviewer Paula Zahn, "They were hotter than hell." The moderately naughty word followed a pause, as if she had debated whether to use it. But after a commercial break, co-host Harry Smith said he was stunned.

"That was Lassie's mom. She said 'hell,'" he marveled.

* Speaking of the series "Lassie," do you remember who preceded Lockhart as mother on the show? Careful, there were actually two actresses.

And while we're playing trivia, guest star David Groh on tonight's edition of "Law and Order" (at 10, Channel 2) once had a prominent role in a popular series. Can you remember?

The answers, please: Cloris Leachman had the Lockhart role of Ruth Martin in "Lassie's" 1957-58 season. Earlier, Jan Clayton was Ellen Miller, mother of Tommy Rettig in Lassie's first family.

And Groh was Joe Gerard, the construction contractor Valerie Harper married and divorced in "Rhoda" (1974-78). (He also does a guest shot Thursday on "L.A. Law.")

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