Burnett adds needed variety to networks


Carol Burnett returns with a new variety special -- lending some variety to an otherwise too-quiet night. During the day, though, two new series premiere that are welcome offerings for pre-school viewers. They're arriving in the Nick of time, as part of the Nick Jr. lineup on Nickelodeon.

* "Melrose Place." (8-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Some of the hospital staffers take a modeling job -- which might mean a temporary relocation to "Models Inc." That spinoff show is in desperate need of some ratings help, so it wouldn't surprise me. Fox.

* "Danielle Steel's 'Family Album.' " (9-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Second of two parts. It's questionable whether this miniseries could move any slower even if the title were taken literally. Flipping through pages of a photo album would be about as exciting, and it's a little sad to see Michael Ontkean, formerly of "Twin Peaks," taking things so seriously as Jaclyn Smith's soapy co-star. NBC.

* "Men, Movies & Carol." (10-11 p.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Don't miss this. Carol Burnett has gathered a trio of familiar TV faces with relatively untapped musical talents -- Scott Bakula from "Quantum Leap," Barry Bostwick from "George Washington" and Michael Jeter from "Evening Shade" -- and let them run loose in comedy and musical skits saluting the movies. (These actors' previous stage credits, after all, include Bakula in "Romance, Romance," Bostwick in "Grease" and Jeter in "Grand Hotel.") Tony Bennett also appears, and the hour moves with all the slyness and infectious good humor of Burnett's classic series. Best bits: The all-star, all-singing, low-rent production-number finale, and Bakula'stwo skits with Burnett, especially one in which he plays the naive seductee to Burnett's "Mrs. Robertson" in a spoof of "The Graduate." CBS.

* "Great Performances: The Mother." (10-11 p.m., channels 22 and 67) -- Anne Bancroft stars in the title role of this Paddy Cheyefsky drama, which hasn't been dramatized since its original live telecast in April 1954. Bancroft is quietly strong and involving; Stephen Lang, as the garment-industry boss who hires her, makes the most of a small and largely thankless role. PBS.

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