The TV Repairman:
Part II of Bud Greenspan's "16 Days of Glory" handling of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics plays the Disney Channel Sunday (9 p.m.), and this one's even better than the excellent first installment that ran in the fall.
Key elements are the inspiring performances of Bonnie Blair, Alberto Tomba, and the too-good-to-be-true Johann Olav Koss. But even better are the stories behind the men's 4 X 10K cross-country relay and Prince Albert (Grimaldi) of Monaco competing in the bobsleigh.
Men and women trudging over the landscape in skis up to distances of 31 miles might not remind us of a double-overtime game at the Final Four, but in Norway it's Utopia and "Glory" captures that and then some with Italy's huge upset victory.
The main man in the winning relay effort is Maurilio de Zolt, a 43-year-old who was told he was too old to compete 15 years before. "When I started to win races, they let me join the national team," he said and no one has been able to supplant him since.
At age 37, then 41, de Zolt took the silver medal in the 50K individual race in both Calgary (1988) and Albertville (1992). He admits the consumption of red wine is part of his daily training regimen, "and if I told you how many glasses I drink I would probably get in trouble."
Each loop of the race is 6.2 miles through the woods and, as Norwegian star Vegard Ulvang points out, "Usually, there is a lot of quiet places in this race. In Lillehammer, there were none." Wall-to-wall humanity, most of it camping out for a week in the frozen tundra, is an awesome sight to see.
Olympics Add: CBS has a retrospective on Lillehammer on "Eye on Sports" tomorrow (2-4 p.m.) Most of the two hours will be given to victories by Tommy Moe, Dan Jansen, Diann Roffe-Steinrotter, Picabo Street and Bonnie Blair. And, yes, the replay we've all been waiting for -- "Tonya and the Broken Shoelace."
* Obviously, the television belonging to Seth Abraham, the man calling the shots at HBO, is on the fritz . . . since at least 1990.
While Seth was making the official announcement that the premium channel has a new show entitled "Real Sports" ready for launch, he made it sound as if a true journalistic approach to sports by television had never been attempted before.
Or maybe it's that Abraham never signed up for cable at home, because ESPN has been winning sports journalism awards for years.
Undoubtedly, "Real Sports" will be a winner, although the inaugural show doesn't hold a whole lot of promise, because HBO does classy work. They don't come much better than executive producer Ross Greenburg and a dynamite lineup of writers and reporters he has lined up for this effort. But to suggest the wheel is being reinvented here is ridiculous.
Abraham said the things that will make the HBO show unique is "it will not have limiting boundaries" like earlier efforts by the networks and other cable carriers have: "HBO does not have the multi-million contracts with sports like others do." He must have forgot its deals with boxers Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and George Foreman.
"HBO has no commercials, so it cannot be pressured by advertisers," said Seth. Did it appear ESPN was caving in to pressure when it did an expose on the seamy side of college athletics even though it's all over college hoops and football?
Greenburg promised "Real Sports" will be "informative, thought-provoking and entertaining," which is all we as viewers can ask. But the promise of a three-segment show containing an interview, an issue-oriented piece and an investigative report being something totally new is just about impossible.
* About the only broadcasting outlet not involved with NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix is Radio Free Europe. Count 'em: NBC, CNN, TNT, Prime, BET, MTV, QVC, Nickelodeon and NBC and NBA Radio. TNT will do the skill competitions tomorrow with NBC checking in for the actual game at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
* Hey, the faltering Washington Caps are on tomorrow visiting the Boston Bruins at 1:30 p.m. on Channel 20. How do you think they'll do going against an item as hot as Maryland's basketball team, which takes on Florida State at the same time on Channels 54 and 7?
* Pssst, Rochester comes to town to play our rough-and-tumble Baltimore Thunder in the Indoor Lacrosse League at 2 p.m. tomorrow and ESPN will have it live. Parental discretion is advised.