It's escape-from-New-York night


The prime-time TV highlight tonight is what you might call Tunnelvision: that sequence, during tonight's second installment of "Stephen King's The Stand," in which one of the author's most famous set pieces is enacted for the cameras. Yes, it's the scene where one character escapes New York by walking and crawling from one end of the Lincoln Tunnel to the other, making his way through and over abandoned cars and dead bodies all the way. And once prime time is over, another character escapes New York, but only for a week, and in a much less dramatic fashion: Tonight's the night David Letterman begins a week's worth of shows from Los Angeles.

* "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (8-8:30 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Now that Will Smith has tasted movie stardom, thanks to "Six Degrees of Separation," he probably wants meatier roles, even on the sitcom that established him as an actor. So tonight on "Fresh Prince," he gets to run through a lot of emotions, including tears and anger, when he gets an unexpected visit from his long-lost father, played by guest star Ben Vereen. NBC.

* "Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love" (8-10 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- This Fox telemovie is presented in Aroma-Vision, but don't worry if you don't have the scratch-and-sniff kit. It stinks anyway. And it includes TWO versions of "Jean," that super-sappy 1967 song sung by Oliver. Fox.

* "Stephen King's The Stand" (9-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- Part 2 of 4. It's not too long into Part 2 before Larry (Adam Storke) hits the road, and the tunnel, and makes it out of New York. But there are lots of other juicy or scary bits of business in this installment, too, such as the scene where Jamey Sheridan's Randall Flagg pops out of nowhere to recruit Lloyd (Miguel Ferrer) into his enemy camp. The real center of the story, though, is Gary Sinise as Stu, who gives the best performance in "The Stand." Tonight, in addition, watch for Shawnee Smith as Julie, making the most of a small role, and Laura San Giacomo, making a lot out of a big one. ABC.

* "Murphy Brown" (9-9:30 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Candice Bergen's husband is filmmaker Louis Malle, which is why his offer of a movie role for Murphy is such a good in-joke here. An even better one, though, is casting another film director, Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman"), as a network executive. Back when Mr. Marshall was the creator and executive producer of such series as "Mork & Mindy" and "Happy Days," all he did during his interview sessions with reporters was tell hilarious stories poking fun at the stupidity of network executives. CBS.

* "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m., WNUV, Channel 54) -- Those Top 10 dispatches from the home office in Sioux City, Iowa, won't have so far to travel this week, because Letterman and company are setting up temporary shop in California. Opening-night West Coast guests are scheduled to include Billy Crystal and Ray Charles. CBS.

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