I received letter recently from a woman angered when I noted, more cynically than sympathetically, Kelsey Grammer's recent post-rehab appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." She was upset that I didn't support Grammer's brave attempts to conquer his substance-abuse problems publicly. My problem is that these "mea culpa" TV appearances always occur during ratings sweeps months, allowing TV to use, if not abuse, the former users and abusers. I mention all this because of tonight's latest sweeps-month example: Robert Downey Jr., making his first post-rehab appearance, as guest host of "Saturday Night Live."
"Extreme Comedy" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- More like Extreme Desperation. Jenny McCarthy is host of what ABC is calling a comedy-adventure special, with fringe celebrities (Jeremy Piven, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Sandra Bernhard) delivering first-person reports after trying such things as white-water rafting and sumo wrestling. ABC.
"Wayne's World 2" (9 p.m.-11 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- I'm not sure what this means, but my favorite part of this "Wayne's World" sequel is the scene in which Wayne and Garth (Mike Myers, Dana Carvey) encounter sexy Swedish receptionist Bjergen, played by Drew Barrymore. ABC.
"Saturday Night Live" (11: 30 p.m.-1 a.m., WBAL, Channel 11) -- Why did Downey choose "SNL" for his comeback vehicle? Home-field advantage: Downey was a cast regular for 1985-1986, though he did little then to make people remember it. Nor was he alone: the same one-year-and-out tour of duty was experienced that season by Anthony Michael Hall, Randy Quaid, Joan Cusack, Terry Sweeney, Damon Wayans and Danitra Vance. The musical guest tonight, by the way, is Fiona Apple. NBC.
"18th Annual Cable ACE Awards" (9 p.m.-conclusion, TNT) -- Cable is where the best telemovies, and at least one of the edgiest sitcoms, exist these days, so why not tune in to watch the industry celebrate its own? The sitcom in question, HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," is expected to be the big winner, but fans of "The Drew Carey Show" will win too -- he's the host tonight, with co-star Kathy Kinney (Mimi) as head heckler.
"Remember WENN" (9: 05 p.m.-9: 45 p.m., AMC) -- Season 2 opens with the radio station staff in a tizzy: Two of their own are returning from World War II London, where they had been broadcasting during a German bombardment. One returns on crutches, the other in a box. This gently nostalgic series about a 1940s Pittsburgh radio station is a homage to a time before television. Surprise, surprise: Its creative force is Rupert Holmes, heretofore best known for "The Pina Colada Song."
Pub Date: 11/16/96