ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* If he can tone down his own stuff when talking to guests a little, comedian Dennis Miller will represent a nice new alternative for late night TV.
On the strength of its first few outings this week (at 12:30 a.m. on WBAL-Channel 11 and 11 p.m. on Washington's WDCA-Channel 20), "The Dennis Miller Show" is fast and funny and seems a little less plug-filled than the usual talk-fest.
Miller, whose mock news reports on "Saturday Night Live" were the sharpest part of many a show, is as satirical a comedy commentator as you can find on TV. He has promised the Friday night editions of his show will include his newscast feature.
And topical humor has been laced through his monologues, set pieces and even his guest interviews.
In those interviews, however, he needs to let his guests talk more. Wednesday night, for example, he quipped all over actress Diane Ladd's pride that she and Laura Dern were the first mother/daughter ever nominated for Golden Globe Awards in the same film ("Rambling Rose").
And with fellow comedian guests, including Bob Saget and Louie Anderson, there has been a tendency to swap old comedy club stories.
But keep your ears tuned and you hear an usually high level of intelligent comedy.
* Without much fanfare, Baltimore County's Comcast Cablevision system earlier this month added Nostalgia Television to its lineup. The service, which offers old movies and TV shows, can now be found on Comcast Channel 45.
How old is it? Comcast suggests the service (also seen on Baltimore City's United Artists Cable) is especially interesting to the over-45 crowd.
One nice nightly step back into TV's past, for instance, is "Burke's Law," screened at 9 p.m.
In the 1963-65 show, Gene Barry is an independently wealthy, bachelor police detective, Amos Burke, who solves murder mysteries while being chauffeured around in his own Rolls-Royce. Watch closely for cameo appearances by big stars, including Buster Keaton, Frank Sinatra, Jayne Mansfield and William Bendix (according to Alex McNeil's reference book, "Total Television").
* WMAR-Channel 2 is airing on Saturday (at 11:30 p.m.) the 24th annual "NAACP Image Awards" for notable achievements, and The Four Tops, The O'Jays, The Dells, The Temptations and comic Arsenio Hall are among the recipients.
* Fresh off the controversy over Oliver Stone's film "JFK," View Video has released "JFK: The Day the Nation Cried." Narrated by actor James Earl Jones, the $19.95 documentary includes remembrances of President Kennedy and his shocking assassination from a variety of public figures.
For availability information, call (800) 843-9843.