Donaldson, Sendak and other scary stuff


It's Mischief Night, on TV as well as out there in the real world. Predictably, today's offerings include a few new Halloween specials and an appearance by Elvira. Less predictably, they also include a new drama starring Mickey Rourke. Now that's scary, boys and girls . . .

* "Double, Double, Toil and Trouble" (8-10 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- This new television movie has the Olsen twins as the stars -- Mary-Kate and Ashley, who share a featured role on "Full House" -- and if I say anything negative at all about this Halloween story, which my kids already have watched six times since the preview tape arrived, I'm afraid they might kill me in my sleep. Read between the lines. ABC.

* "The Paula Poundstone Show" (10-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- My favorite part of this proudly eclectic hour is when Ms. Poundstone interviews a trio of sober-minded economists. Why? Because she interviews them as they're spinning around in a fairground whirling-cup ride. She asks the questions, they have a few seconds to shout out their answers, then whoosh!, they're thrown out of camera and microphone range. They ought to look into this particular technique for possible use on "This Week With David Brinkley." Speaking of which: This show also includes Sam Donaldson reading Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are." ABC.

* "Saturday Night Live" (11:30 p.m.-1 a.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Christian Slater hosts this week's show, which has a deliciously appropriate musical guest for Mischief Night: the rock group Smashing Pumpkins. NBC.

* "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (12:30-2:30 a.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Here's a repeat of last Monday's "Rocky Horror" TV premiere, complete with interactive mimicry from a typical cult audience. Be aware, though, that the interaction itself is far from typical: The visual cues are all there, but most of the verbal insults and replies are missing. Fox.


* "The Spell" (12:05-1:35 p.m., TBS) -- Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) hosts this film and the two following it, and will be back tomorrow for another quartet of bad films.

* "The Halloween Tree" (4:35-6:05 p.m., TBS) -- The animation in this new Hanna-Barbera special could be a lot better -- and if the artwork had equaled the intriguing story and poetic narration by Ray Bradbury, this would be an instant holiday classic. As is, because it explores the roots of the Halloween holiday and offers substantial amount of spooky ideas, "The Halloween Tree" is recommended anyway.

* "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (7-9 p.m., COM) -- Head writer Mike Nelson takes over the starring role tonight, overseeing a movie called "The Brain That Wouldn't Die." Bottom line: Mr. Nelson is fine, and the show's as funny as ever.

* "The Last Outlaw" (8-9:30 p.m., HBO) -- HBO didn't send this new television movie out for preview, and it stars Mickey Rourke. Need I say more?

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