Danson trying to help 'Down Home'


On The Weekend Watch:

WELCOME HOME -- Did you see those unusual promos this week on NBC with Ted Danson (from "Cheers") plugging another show? It's "Down Home," the spring tryout sitcom that returns to the lineup at 9:30 tonight for a preview in the coveted post-"Cheers" slot. Danson is the producer of the series, which stars Judith Ivey as a worldly single woman who has returned to the rustic Texas bait shop run by her father. On the basis of a limited run in the spring, "Down Home" is no "Cheers," at least not yet. But it does have some likable characters (especially Gedde Wanatabe as a Vietnamese cook) and one of those limited settings with which good writers can have some fun. The show moves on Saturday to a regular 8:30 p.m. slot.

JOHNNY SMOOTH -- The man whose vibrato makes female fans swoon, singer Johnny Mathis, stars in a 90-minute special Friday on Maryland Public Television. "Johnny Mathis -- Chances Are" airs at 9 p.m. (channels 22 and 67), and it is worth noting this is a sign the PBS lineup currently is in one of those pledge-drive periods for many stations across the nation (including Channel 26 in Washington). But MPT has abandoned the traditional begging format in favor of periodic short appeals surrounding some of the usual special programming. Another example is "Frank Sinatra: The Voice of Our Time," at 9 p.m. Saturday on MPT.

THE MOVIE MARQUEE -- Media Monitor is of the opinion there are certain films which simply should not be viewed on TV, for they are movies of such visual impact the small screen cannot do them justice. Such a one is "2001: A Space Odyssey," the epic Stanley Kubrick/Arthur C. Clarke collaboration from 1968. However, if you must see it on the tube, a Friday night airing is a pretty pristine presentation without the interruption of commercials. It is on MPT at 10:30 p.m. By contrast, we note that last year's best picture, "Driving Miss Daisy," is a film whose grace and charm springs more from character and dialogue than visual scope, and thus should survive shrinking to TV size. And cable's HBO and Cinemax premium services premiere the film this weekend, including a 9 p.m. Sunday showing.

OVERNIGHT TELETHON -- The annual 15-hour "Easter Seals Telethon" is on stations across the nation this weekend, and an eight-hour portion can be seen locally on Channel 45, beginning at 10 p.m. Saturday. The station resumes normal programming at 6 a.m. Sunday.

THE CABLE CONNECTION -- Optimism is hard to find in the premiere Sunday of a three-part examination by the Arts & Entertainment network of the uses of terrorism in the world. In part one of "Terror" (at 8 p.m. on the basic service), Jack Perkins narrates a gloomy, Palestinian-leaning assessment of the pre-war Middle East situation in which God is cited by both Arab and Jew as approving violent acts.

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