Dylan unplugs and unwinds on MTV

THE BALTIMORE SUN

How many shows must a man knock down before he can call one a joy? The answer, my friend, is on MTV, where a special "Unplugged" with Bob Dylan is the night's tastiest treat.

* "Beverly Hills, 90210" (8-9 p.m., Channel 45) -- Tough times at "90210": First it was Shannen Doherty as Brenda who got fired, and now it's Jennie Garth's Kelly. In this case, it's not the actress who gets fired, but the character: Kelly was caught in a burning building. Fox.

* "Bob Hope's Christmas Show: Hopes for the Holidays" (9-10 p.m., Channel 2) -- These Hope holiday specials defer to his waning health and waxing years by giving the comedy icon home-field advantage: They're now done from his place, with a few celebrity friends dropping by to share memories, tell a joke, sing a song, or set up clips from old shows. NBC.

* "Christmas in Washington" (10-11 p.m., Channel 2) -- In this hour, the standout musical performance is Kathy Mattea's "Mary, Did You Know?" in which her acoustic guitar is backed by a full orchestra. Also really nice: Joe Secada's polyglot rendition of "Silent Night." NBC.

Cable

* "MTV Unplugged: Bob Dylan" (8-9 p.m., MTV) -- The irony here, of course, is that it was Dylan himself who stunned, and changed, the folk-music movement by playing "plugged" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. So for him to go "unplugged," nearly 30 years later, is not so much revelation as reverie. Still, it's a wonderful hour, with quiet, purposefully subdued versions of 1964's "With God on Our Side" and "The Times They Are A'Changin' " among the most delightful performances. Dylan not only says a few words to the audience, but smiles, too. Call it "Unmasked."

* "The Miracle Worker" (midnight-2:15 a.m., TNT) -- Based on a Broadway play based on a live TV drama, this 1962 movie holds its power and drama after all these years. Credit, more than anything else, the captivating performances by Anne Bancroft as teacher Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke as young Helen Keller.

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