ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Parents whose children are facing their first day of school in the coming weeks might want to tune in this week's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," for TV's most venerable friend to kids is repeating his annual "Starting School" episodes.
The show airs at 10 a.m. daily on Maryland Public Television, (and also at 8 a.m. on Washington's WHMM-Channel 32 and 8:30 a.m. on Washington's WETA-Channel 26).
In the programs, the host tells his young viewers that school is "an exciting new adventure and something to look forward to -- a milestone in growing up."
And through visits to a school, songs and other thematic material, he emphasizes that "children need to see that many things in school are a lot like home."
The program also makes available a free booklet for families, "When Your Child Goes to School." Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: School, c/o Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, 4802 Fifth Ave. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213.
* Despite the frequency of his appearances on national TV shows, Democratic presidential nominee Gov. Bill Clinton cannot count on soft questions, as he found during yesterday morning's stop (with running mate Sen. Albert Gore Jr.) on "CBS This Morning."
As has become customary on the morning shows, the network had ordinary citizens in the studio and on location from a number of cities asking questions of the candidates.
And late in the program a woman brought up, in no uncertain terms, the question of Clinton's marital difficulties, asking how she could trust him as president.
With perhaps only a flicker of irritation crossing his face, the candidate replied he had been more open than any candidate in history about his personal life, and that if voters want someone who has not had marital difficulties, they might have trouble finding anyone.
"Does that satisfy you?" asked show co-host Paul Zahn.
To some degree, the woman replied but concluded, "We still have until November to decide, right?
* CBS tonight launches a summer tryout series. "Freshman Dorm," at 9 o'clock (Channel 11), features a repertory cast of young residents of a fictitious western campus.
* Can the actual facts of tonight's "Dateline NBC" (at 10 o'clock, Channel 2, or after the Orioles game) possibly match the lurid promos for the piece running all last week during the "Olympic Summer Games?"
The subject is an apparent rise in cases of pharmacists who purchase and distribute illicit, experimental drugs.
Serious stuff, no question. But the promotional ads made it sound as if asking your friendly druggist for an aspirin might be a risky proposition.