Life, death and a little fancy skating


CBS has a real-life, two-hour narrative special, PBS has the second installment of "Poverty in America," ABC has the conclusion of a two-hour "Nightline" on a Texas execution, and Fox has a skating special that counts, I guess, as real life -- though not as real important.

* "Rock 'n' Roll Skating Championships" (8-10 p.m., Channel 45) -- Fox is billing this taped competition as the first post-Olympics head-to-head rematch between Nancy Kerrigan and Oksana Baiul. But how seriously can the results be taken when the panel of "celebrity judges" includes professional volleyball player Kent Steffis and "Downtown" Julie Brown? Fox.

* "Marker" (8-9 p.m., Channels 20, 54) -- Written and created by the prolific and durable Stephen J. Cannell, "Marker" takes Richard Grieco of "21 Jump Street" and Gates McFadden of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and throws them into a show set in Hawaii, where he honors his father's last wish and sets up shop to honor his dad's "markers": numbered crystal pieces handed out to people with the understanding that they could be cashed in for a favor at any time. The production values are on a par with, say, "Silk Stalkings" -- which is to say that it's better than anything on rival network WB. UPN.

* "The Watcher" (9-10 p.m., Channels 20, 54) -- Sir Mix-A-Lot stars as a Las Vegas video-surveillance security guard in this new series, whose pilot was so absurd and nonsensical it Sure Mixed-Me-Up-A-Lot. Imagine an hour in which a hypnotist runs around convincing beautiful women he's Tom Cruise, and a couple of gamblers get entrapped by Satan, and lots of people die while all the Watcher does is . . . watch. Viewers shouldn't. UPN.

* "Before Your Eyes: A Heart for Olivia" (9-11 p.m., Channel 13) -- A couple searches for a heart donor for their unborn daughter, and CBS cameras shadow them every step of the way. As with the first "Before Your Eyes" special, I have problems with how stagy many of the scenes seem, as though the subjects are overly aware of the cameras. That's not to say that the story isn't worth telling, just that it could have been better told. CBS.

* "America's War on Poverty" (9-11 p.m., Channels 22, 67) -- The second hour tonight, produced by Paige Martinez and Sam Sills, is the strongest in this entire series. PBS.

* "Nightline" (11:35 p.m.-12:05 a.m., Channel 2) -- Part 2 of 2. Texas death row inmate Mario Marques, whose execution was scheduled for midnight yesterday, is the subject of tonight's special "Nightline." Ted Koppel, who planned to witness the execution, is there. ABC.

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