In place of movies, CBS and ABC are both airing miniseries Sunday and Monday nights. At 8 p.m. both nights CBS is offering a new six-hour Christopher Columbus with Gabriel Byrne in the title role under the direction of Italy's esteemed veteran Alberto Lattuada. ABC counters at 8 p.m. Sunday and 9 p.m. Monday with Deadly Intentions, a four-hour drama based on a true story about a woman who discovers that her "perfect" husband is actually a psychopath plotting her murder. Michael Biehn, Madolyn Smith and Cloris Leachman (as Biehn's mother) star.
Also airing Sunday at 8 p.m. (on Channel 11) is Martin Scorsese's provocative, bloody Taxi Driver, starring Robert De Niro as a walking time bomb.
Gregory Nava's and Anna Thomas' El Norte (Channel 50 at 8 p.m., Channels 28 and 15 at 9 p.m. on Monday) dramatizes the plight of illegal immigrants on an epic scale, following a brother (David Villalpando) and sister (Zaide Silvia Gutierrez) from their native Indian village in Guatemala through the dangerous ordeal of a border crossing at Tijuana and their eventual arrival in Los Angeles, where they attempt to create a new life for themselves. At times director Nava and producer Thomas--they collaborated on the Oscar-nominated script--exceed their grasp, but it's worth overlooking occasional awkwardness and contrivances for the deeply affecting and illuminating experience that El Norte can be. The wonderful cast includes Lupe Ontiveros as Gutierrez's staunch, hearty friend. (See Show of the Week on Page 5.)
That most numbing of shockers, The Exorcist, airs Monday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13; its extravagantly misfired sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13 and again on Saturday at 11 p.m.
The 1982 TV movie Prime Suspect, which stars Mike Farrell and Teri Garr and is awfully similar to "Absence of Malice," repeats on NBC Monday at 9 p.m.
The gloriously giddy My Favorite Year (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m.), inspired by Mel Brooks' memories as a fledgling writer on television's "Your Show of Shows," is especially memorable for Peter O'Toole's boozy homage to Flynn and Barrymore.
Airing at 9 p.m. Tuesday on CBS is Do You Remember Love?, a new TV movie starring Joanne Woodward as a poet and college professor struck down by Alzheimer's disease. Richard Kiley portrays her husband and Geraldine Fitzgerald plays her mother.
Right to Kill? (ABC Wednesday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie based on a true story, stars Christopher Collet as a teen-ager who shoots his abusive father (Frederic Forrest). Playing opposite on CBS (Wednesday at 9 p.m.) is another new TV movie, Chiller, about a young man (Michael Beck) who's thawed out after a decade in cryogenic suspension. Earlier Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 5, is Steven Spielberg's disastrous World War II comedy 1941, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.
Movies in prime time for the rest of the week are such familiar items as the funny and lively Silver Streak (Channel 5 Thursday at 8 p.m.) with Gene Wilder, Jill Clayburgh and Richard Pryor; the landmark supernatural thriller Rosemary's Baby (Channel 13 Thursday at 8 p.m.); the misfired comedy Caddyshack (CBS Friday at 8 p.m.) with Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield and Mel Brooks' delicious spoof Young Frankenstein (Channel 5 Friday at 8 p.m.).
Evenings on the pay/cable services: Strangers on a Train (WOR Sunday at 10); The Return of a Man Called Horse (Showtime Monday at 6); Moscow on the Hudson (ON and SelecTV Monday at 7); She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Z Monday at 7); Seven Days in May (WTBS Tuesday at 8); Limelight (Disney Wednesday at 9); A Streetcar Named Desire (Cinemax Wednesday at 10); The Trouble With Harry (SelecTV Thursday at 7; Movie Channel Saturday at 7); Fail Safe (WTBS Thursday at 7:20); Stage Door (Z Thursday at 7:30); The Karate Kid (ON Thursday at 8:30; SelecTV at 9); Bonnie and Clyde (WTBS Thursday at 10:45); Iceman (Movie Channel Friday at 6); The Personals (Z Friday at 7:30); Last Embrace (Cinemax Friday at 8); Tootsie (HBO Saturday at 8).