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September 08, 1985|HOWARD ROSENBERG

PREMIERES--The fall TV season continues to arrive piecemeal, and this week it's NBC's turn to put some cards on the table.

Three new series begin this week on the once-hapless network whose prime-time schedule last season passed ABC and rocketed to second place in the Nielsen ratings behind CBS.

First comes Robert Blake as the convict-turned-ghetto priest in the unpreviewed dramatic series "Hell Town," 9 p.m. Wednesday on Channels 4, 36 and 39. Blake is Father "Hardstep" Rivers, now a pastor of the parish whose orphanage took him in as a child, and here determined to rescue a prostitute from her abusive pimp.

On Saturday, NBC unveils two promising comedies. The first, at 9 p.m., is "The Golden Girls," a half-hour series featuring Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty as over-50 housemates. Good cast. Good lines.

That's followed at 9:30 by "227," starring Marla Gibbs ("The Jeffersons") as a feisty neighbor in a feisty working-class neighborhood. Gibbs is fun and gets good support from Hal Williams, Alaina Reed and Jackee Harry.

Making its debut at 8 p.m. Tuesday on KTLA Channel 5 is the two-hour pilot for the syndicated "Dempsey & Makepeace." American Michael Brandon and British Glynis Barber team as Scotland Yard undercover cops in a stinker of a series from London Weekend Television that proves that the British can create TV that's as bad as some of ours.

On the cable front, Home Box Office premieres a two-part historical drama Sunday night at 8, its own "Mussolini: The Decline and Fall of Il Duce," starring Bob Hoskins as the Italian dictator who helped bring his nation to ruin as Hitler's ally in World War II. The cast is first-rate, the production watchable but undistinguished. The conclusion airs Monday at 8 p.m.

On Saturday at 8 p.m. Showtime brings America the smashing Pointer Sisters in an energetic concert from Paris. So jump !

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