Networks get into Halloween spirit


On The Weekend Watch:

HEAPS O' HORROR -- OK, tonight's the night of dread, and the Halloween theme is running through a number of regular programs or is spawning some specials. Among them is the trio of Fox network series, "The Simpsons," "Drexell's Class" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" (beginning at 8, Channel 45). Even NBC's "Cheers" (at 9, Channel 2) gets into the spooky spirit, as the gang plays a prank on rival barkeep Gary. A two-hour special at 8 on Channel 54, "Horror Hall of Fame," features actor Robert Englund (better known as Freddy Krueger of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series) hosting a collection of horror clip highlights. And on cable's Nick at Nite, an eight-hour marathon of the best episodes of the TV series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" begins at 10 p.m.

HELLO AGAIN, CAROL -- There were so many promos for her show running during the World Series that you may think she's been back for weeks, already. But "The Carol Burnett Show" really premieres on CBS Friday (9 o'clock, Channel 11). The new sketch comedy follows her "Carol & Company" show, dumped by NBC last spring. Guests include Martin Short, B.B. King and Jim Nabors.

THE SPORTS SCENE -- It's the next best thing to being at the track. NBC on Saturday is providing full four-hour coverage of thoroughbred horse racing's richest event, the "1991 Breeders' Cup Day." The seven-race meeting is scheduled live from Churchill Downs, beginning at noon. In more local action of the gridiron kind, the University of Maryland Terrapins meet the North Carolina Tar Heels live at noon Saturday on Channel 45. And for racing of the human kind, check out ABC's coverage Sunday of the "New York City Marathon." It's at 10:30 a.m. (Channel 13), with Jim McKay and Marty Liquori calling the 22nd annual foot race, expected to include 20,000 participants.

COUNTRY CROONING -- Singer Garth Brooks recently walked off with the majority of honors at the Country Music Association's annual awards, including Entertainer of the Year. He is the featured guest on "Austin City Limits," at 7 p.m. Saturday on Maryland Public Television.

SWEEPS ALERT! -- Upcoming is the first weekend of the important November ratings period. Thus the big three networks have a classic Sunday showdown (all at 9 p.m.). On ABC, reliable ratings grabber Jaclyn Smith stars in a new movie, "The Rape of Dr. Willis," in which she's a doctor and rape victim whose attacker ends up on her operating table. CBS goes the miniseries route with "False Arrest," a two-part story with Donna Mills and Robert Wagner about a woman imprisoned for a murder she did not commit. And NBC also launches a miniseries, the two-part sequel, "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw," with Kenny Rogers.

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