TACKLING THE ISSUES:
* ABC anchor Peter Jennings takes a long look tonight at "Men, Sex and Rape," a one-hour special at 10 (Channel 13) that will also be followed at 11:30 (after local news) by a 90-minute "ABC News Special Forum" on the topic.
The first show carries a "viewer discretion" advisory for frank language, and offers the statistic that there were 52 percent more rapes reported in the United States last year than the previous year.
In an earlier interview, Jennings also noted that, "Every expert we interviewed [says] that women do not cause men to rape them -- not by what they wear or what they say or how late they stay."
* Also at 10 tonight on HBO, an affecting new "America Undercover" documentary looks unblinkingly at the human side of the abortion debate. Filmmakers Susan Roemke and Deborah Dickson recorded a week in the work of a Pittsburgh clinic, in January 1991.
From the opening moments, "Abortion: Desperate Choices" presents the paradox of a controversy that is many generations old.
"Your test is positive," says a clerk at the front desk, and the woman who receives the news is elated, hugging her boyfriend. The couple walks off arm in arm.
But cut to the clerk's next relation of the same news, and a girl named Susan is visibly stunned, mutely nodding when asked, "Do you want to talk to one of our counselors?"
The camera follows her lonely walk down a hall to begin to discuss her options.
Soon, however, we also meet earnest anti-abortion protesters outside, praying together as they prepare for a day of confronting visitors to the clinic.
* Does anybody else think "Life Goes On" went soft Sunday night in its treatment of the death of a continuing character?
Tyler (Tommy Puett), first boyfriend of Becca (Kellie Martin), succumbed to injuries after driving his car into a tree in the previous week's show, with Corky (Christopher Burke) in the car. Corky survived largely uninjured, yet had not spoken since the accident.
We had seen that Tyler had been drinking heavily, and through Sunday's sequel it appeared the show was delivering a strong message about the dangers of mixing alcohol, automobiles and anger.
Yet the episode concluded with Corky finally relating, through flashback scenes, that Tyler had calmed down, regretted his anger and was preparing to park the car when he swerved to avoid a kid on a bicycle.
Thus Tyler ended up more heroic than stupid, actually saving a life at the sacrifice of his own. The show blunted the worthwhile message in favor of a pretty mawkish remembrance.