It's big-time basketball vs. 'Boheme'


It's Patrick Ewing vs. Puccini tonight, as the season's first installment of the NBA finals goes head-to-head against the season's last installment of "Great Performances."

* "NBA Finals" (9 p.m.-conclusion, WMAR, Channel 2) -- This has the makings of a really good series: The New York Knicks, led by Mr. Ewing, against the Houston Rockets, led by Hakeem Olajuwon. The Knicks haven't been in the finals for 21 years, and the Rockets last reached that esteemed orbit in 1986 -- where Mr. Olajuwon and company lost to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in six. Tonight's first game gives Houston the home-court advantage -- and ask the Knicks if that isn't important. NBC.

* "Great Performances: 'La Boheme' " (9-11 p.m., WMPT, channels 22 and 67) -- The Australian Opera Company comes up with an idea so simple, it's wonderful: Why not take "La Boheme" and set it in the bohemian times of 1950s Paris? Transplanting it to the beatnik era works, and the entire cast is young and attractive, which helps the credibility of the love story between starving writer Rodolfo (David Hobson) and the quickly sickly Mimi (Cheryl Barker). The scene-stealer, though, is Christine Douglass as a sassy, sexy Musetta. Baz Luhrmann ("Strictly Ballroom") directed this 1993 production, taped at the Sydney Opera House. PBS.

* "48 Hours: 'Dead Tired' " (10-11 p.m., Channel 11) -- This is a very interesting episode of "48 Hours," one that will make you think twice about A) driving tired, B) getting medical aid from a second-year resident, C) snoring, and D) pulling all-nighters.

The only angle the show misses is letting one of its correspondents stay awake for "48 Hours," as a personal reflection of the effects of sleep deprivation. CBS.


* "The Vanishing" (8-9:45 p.m., MAX) -- Here's a nice Cinemax scheduling trick. It shows this 1988 Dutch film, starring Gene Bervoets as a man who is tormented by his girlfriend's sudden disappearance, then follows it with a telecast of the 1993 American remake.

* "Larry King Live" (9-10 p.m., CNN) -- Dave Barry is Mr. King's scheduled guest. Mr. Barry is one of the funniest writers alive, if you call that living.

* "The Vanishing" (9:45-11:35 p.m., MAX) -- This version, starring Kiefer Sutherland as the boyfriend, changes a lot, including the ending, which makes the comparison especially interesting.

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