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September 01, 1985|Kevin Thomas

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (ABC Sunday at 8 p.m.) is arguably the best of the Bonds, which makes it all the more disappointing that this time out James Bond was played by the only OK George Lazenby instead of Sean Connery. What sets it apart from all those films before and after is that, while it's ablaze with action, 007 is allowed genuine claims to humanity, specifically in his relationship with the love of his life, deliciously played by Diana Rigg.

By any name, On the Road Again (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), which played in theaters as "Honeysuckle Rose," is an amusing, mellow entertainment, with Willie Nelson as a country-music star who strays on tour (with Amy Irving) but has a wife (Dyan Cannon, at her confident best) at home who knows what to do about it.

Channel 7 has dusted off the 1971 TV movie The Deadly Hunt (Monday at 8:30 p.m.), an entertaining thriller in which vacationing Jim Hutton and Anjanette Comer are menaced by an assassin--and a forest fire. Meanwhile, NBC will be premiering (Monday at 9 p.m.) the 1980 film A Change of Seasons, which exploits rather than explores sexual mores. Shirley MacLaine stars as the wife of a professor (Anthony Hopkins). When he starts an affair with a student (Bo Derek), she evens the score by pursuing a young carpenter (Michael Brandon).

Marco Polo (Channel 5 Monday through Friday at 8 p.m.) is a bad yet beautiful-looking drama. Except in a very general way, there is no plot to this plodding and pretentious story about the 13th-Century Venetian explorer who visited China and became a favorite of the great Mongol conqueror Kublai Khan.

Father of Hell Town, a two-hour TV movie and series pilot for the coming "Hell Town," repeats Wednesday at 8 p.m. on NBC. Robert Blake stars as an ex-convict-turned-ghetto priest. Opposite it Wednesday night on ABC is a rerun of Inside the Third Reich, a worthy five-hour dramatization of Hitler's architect and armaments chief Albert Speer (well played by Rutger Hauer). Wednesday's 8-11 p.m. installment will be followed by the conclusion Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m.

Also airing Wednesday (on CBS at 9 p.m.) is the notable 1984 TV movie License to Kill, about two families that are torn apart when a high school girl is killed by a drunk driver. James Farentino is excellent as the girl's father, as is Don Murray as her killer.

Margin for Murder (CBS Friday at 9 p.m.) is a repeat of the 1981 Mike Hammer series pilot that didn't sell. As a TV movie, it's average; Kevin Dobson is Hammer.

Cornel Wilde directed the taut, exciting The Naked Prey (Channel 5 Saturday at 8 p.m.), in which he stars as a prisoner of African natives who give him a head start before they begin hunting him down. Playing opposite it (Channel 11 at 8 p.m.) is another fine '60s film, Paul Mazursky's witty marital comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

Another TV movie in rerun, Dark Night of the Scarecrow (CBS Saturday at 9 p.m.) is an enjoyable chiller, set in a small town and centering on a little girl's innocent friendship with a retarded man.

What makes The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Channel 28 Saturday at 10 p.m.) so captivating today is that it keeps breaking through its lurid '40s melodrama plotting to touch upon timeless truths about the temptations of power and wealth, the capriciousness of fate and the tragedy of a life built on lies. Small-town mill owner Barbara Stanwyck's life is thrown into turmoil when childhood sweetheart Van Heflin shows up unexpectedly. Kirk Douglas made his film debut in this 1946 Hal Wallis production as Stanwyck's alcoholic husband.

Selected evening pay/cable fare: Tightrope (Movie Channel Sunday at 7 and HBO at 8, Cinemax Monday at 10, Showtime Tuesday at 8, Cinemax Thursday at 8, Z Friday at 9, HBO Saturday at 11:30); Once Upon a Time in America (Z Sunday at 7 and Thursday at 8); The Personals (HBO Monday at 6); Saboteur (Z Monday at 6); All the Right Moves (ON and SelecTV Monday at 9, HBO Thursday at 10); City Lights (Disney Monday at 10); Love Streams (ON and SelecTV Tuesday at 7); 55 Days at Peking (WTBS Tuesday at 7:20); The Wild Child (Z Tuesday at 7); Topper (Cinemax Tuesday at 8); The Only Game in Town (WGN Tuesday at 9:30); Alligator (Cinemax Tuesday at 10, ON and SelecTV Wednesday at 9); True Confessions (Movie Channel Wednesday at 8); The Miracle Woman (ON and SelecTV Thursday at 7); The Border (Z Friday at 7); Mother Wore Tights (Cinemax Friday at 8); Never Cry Wolf (Disney Friday at 9); Alphabet City (Cinemax Saturday at 10).

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