'Nova' goes after Butch and Sundance


Tonight's Chicago-Toronto playoff game may or may not decide who wins that series, but it will decide who plays baseball in prime time tomorrow night. If the Blue Jays win tonight and capture the AL pennant, then the National League's Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies become tomorrow's Ready-For-Prime-Time Players. However, if Chicago wins and forces the AL series to a seventh game, that game takes place under the lights tomorrow night, and the Phillies and Braves play on CBS in the afternoon. So much for tomorrow's possibilities; now for tonight's definites.

* "American League Championship Series" (8 p.m.-0l conclusion, WBAL, Channel 11) -- Game 6 returns the White Sox to Chicago, where the Game 2 starters, Chicago's Alex Fernandez and Toronto's Dave Stewart, face each other again. The results last time: Blue Jays won, 2-1. CBS.

* "Nova: Wanted: Butch and Sundance" (8-9 p.m., WMPT, channels 22 and 67) -- Who are those guys? Well, they're forensic anthropologists and outlaw historians, who mount their trusty steeds (varieties of both real and mechanical horsepower), retrace the last steps of the leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, and try to compare the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with the bone-fragment, DNA-traces reality. Letter-boxed scenes from the delightful "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" film are peppered throughout, and this turns out to be a thoroughly engrossing episode of this science-loving PBS series. You just keep thinkin', "Nova." That's what you're good at. PBS.

* "Frontline: The Heartbeat of America" (9-10:30 p.m., WMPT, PTC channels 22 and 67) -- This documentary is sufficiently wide-ranging to include both Ross Perot (a former member of the GM board of directors) and the public radio "Car Talk" guys, who prove as comfortable and entertaining on TV as they do on radio. The speed at which they display the design weaknesses of one particular GM van model is amazing, and laugh-out-loud funny. Robert Krulwich is the correspondent, and the report is filled with more drama, intrigue, comedy, irony and plot twists than a month's worth of soap operas. And the Saturn, at least, comes off rather well, though many other GM models do not. PBS.

* "Dateline NBC" (10-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Howard Stern media blitz, scheduled appearance #1: Stone Phillips is scheduled to interview Stern tonight. NBC.

* "NYPD Blue" (10-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Because ABC provided the first three episodes of this series for preview, I was able to see all those in advance. Now, though, that grace period of preview privilege is over, and I'm awaiting tonight's episode as eagerly as any other series in prime time. Dennis Franz, David Caruso star. ABC.

* "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m., WNUV, Channel 54) -- Howard Stern media blitz, scheduled appearance #2: For the first time on Letterman's new show, Stern is scheduled to visit. CBS.

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