'TV Nation' should grow on America


Today marks the scheduled start of the Whitewater hearings, which will be carried live (beginning at 9:30 a.m.) by CNN -- but won't exactly get the saturation coverage earmarked for anything having to do with O. J. Simpson. As for entertainment programming tonight, the freshest offering is the second episode of Michael Moore's "TV Nation."

* "TV Nation" (8-9 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- The premiere of this series didn't exactly grab the TV nation: The show finished third in its time period. Part of that is due to the fact that this series is mature enough, in content and concepts, to belong at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. instead, and part may be due to the fact that "TV Nation" is not easily described. However, it IS easily watched, so give it a chance. On tonight's installment of this playful newsmagazine, Michael Moore interviews modern-day members of the Ku Klux Klan, visits Kuwait and lets correspondent Merrill Markoe file a report on "Pets on Prozac." NBC.

* "NYPD Blue" (10-11 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13) -- This freshman series just earned 26 Emmy nominations, the most in a single year for any TV series in history, and tonight's episode doubtlessly was responsible for swaying a lot of those votes, including the acting nominations for Dennis Franz (as Andy Sipowicz) and Sharon Lawrence (as Sylvia Costas). This is the episode in which Andy accompanies Sylvia to a festive birthday party, an act that has less than festive repercussions. ABC repeat.


* "Absolutely Fabulous" (8:30-10 p.m., COM) -- This series truly is: I found myself unable to divert my attention from Sunday's 12-episode marathon, because the scripts by Jennifer Saunders and the performances by Ms. Saunders, Joanna Lumley and Julia Sawalha are so hilarious. Tonight's two-parter opens with one of the series' very best, a trip to Paris that turns into a traveling nightmare.

* "Straight Dope: An MTV Special Report on Drugs" (10-11 p.m., MTV) -- The advice here is to watch out for the brown acid. No, wait, that was the "Woodstock" special report on drugs. For the MTV generation, the message is a lot more somber and a lot less user-friendly.

* "A Fire in the Sky" (3-6 a.m., TNT) -- TNT demonstrates good timing on scheduling this 1978 telemovie, but bad judgment in televising it so late at night. After all, recent events have made this a plot line promotable enough to warrant a prime-time play: It's about a giant comet that is tracked by scientists as heading straight for Earth on a deadly collision course. After what just happened on Jupiter, this kind of hypothetical scenario is on people's minds, and in the media, anyway. Richard Crenna stars.

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