With or without a trial, there's still prime time


There were a few days last week on which I noted the O. J. Simpson trial was scheduled to start. It didn't, of course -- but today, finally, is supposed to be the day. O. J. Day, as it were. Regardless, in prime time, my attention, as yours, should drift elsewhere.

* "Melrose Place." (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WBFF, Channel 45) -- Last week, the two-hour episode of "Melrose Place" packed more story lines, and wrapped more of them up, than a year's worth of "Dallas" or "Dynasty." Last week, Traci Lords was introduced as friendly waitress Rikki -- but by the time those two hours were over, she already was showing signs of creepy, significant manipulation. By the end of tonight's show, she may well be a major villain. Fox.

* "Star Trek: Voyager." (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WNUV, Channel 54) -- Here's a good test of how "Voyager" will hold up: Its first regular episode, as opposed to the zillion-dollar pilot. UPN.

* "American Cinema." (8 p.m.-10 p.m., WMPT, Channels 22 and 67) -- The first two installments of this PBS series start slowly -- it isn't until about 15 minutes in, when we get outtakes from "Casablanca," that magic strikes for the first time. The first hour is all about film technique, but doesn't start with the silents. Hour two, about stars, is more all-inclusive, and a lot more pleasant to watch, with analyses of Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and others. PBS.

* "Tango & Cash." (9 p.m.-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- Forget Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell as the stars. This 1989 movie is worth catching only for its then-unknown female star: Teri Hatcher, now of "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." ABC.

* "Platypus Man." (9 p.m.-9:30 p.m., WNUV, Channel 54) -- Richard Jeni plays the host of a cooking show in this brand-new comedy from UPN, which itself is brand-new. UPN.

* "Pig Sty." (9:30 p.m.-10 p.m., WNUV, Channel 54) -- A pleasant surprise: This grungy-roomie comedy is a lot wittier and better written than its premise, and its new network's placement, might have you believe. There are no real stars here, but David Arnott, as the sleaziest of these male roommates, should be one soon. UPN.

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