'Matlock' returns to the ABC lineup


It's a day for changes and surprises. The changes include the return of ABC's "Matlock," which, with its two-hour premiere, has the unfortunate side effect of pre-empting "My So-Called Life." There's also the continued earlier-evening showing of "Chicago Hope" on CBS. The major surprise? An entertaining made-for-TV movie from the USA Network.

* "Matlock" (8 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 13) -- Grampa Simpson will be thrilled: Andy Griffith returns as Matlock, in a two-hour episode that also marks the return of another familiar TV face. Linda Kelsey, who played Billie the reporter on "Lou Grant," plays another newspaper type -- this time a famous columnist. ABC.

* "Due South" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 11) -- On Tuesday, "Dateline NBC" warned us about bad meat. On Wednesday, "Turning Point" warned us about bad meat. Now, tonight, "Due South" does an episode on the same topic -- an example of what can happen when reality and fiction meat. CBS.

* "Mystery! 'Maigret II' " (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 22) -- Michael Gambon, who gave a stunning performance as the afflicted hero of "The Singing Detective," returns as Parisian detective Maigret -- and starts off by being accused of rape in the first new story, "Maigret on the Defensive." PBS.

* "Chicago Hope" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 11) -- In the first episode of this series, Margaret Colin guest-starred as a doctor bringing to the hospital infant Siamese twins in need of separating. In tonight's episode, she returns, once again with two babies in critical conditions. Other guest stars include Nina Seimaszko, star of "Wild Orchid 2: Two Shades of Blue." Mandy (( Patinkin stars. CBS.

* "E.R." (10 p.m.-11 p.m., Channel 2) -- Postponed from an earlier date: Alan Rosenberg of "Civil Wars," and more recently of "L. A. Law," guest-stars as a guy in need of a heart transplant -- the same operation, coincidentally, at the center of this week's "Chicago Hope." NBC.


* "The Companion" (9 p.m.-11 p.m., USA) -- In this futuristic sci-fi thriller, Kathryn Harrold stars as an author of romance novels who buys a high-tech android (Bruce Greenwood), a model G-45 companion" meant to serve as a handyman, as she writes her latest novel in a remote cabin. Instead, she keeps tinkering with his programming, and with other things, as their relationship progresses from servant-master to devoted lovers to your basic "Demon Seed" overload. Shockingly, there's a lot of subtle acting going on here, and the vision of the near future, as well as the characters, is surprisingly fresh and clear.

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