While CBS launches a seven-hour miniseries based on the novel Kane and Abel and ABC airs The Execution of Raymond Graham, its first live TV drama in 25 years, NBC is playing it safe in the 9 p.m. Sunday movie slot with Hostage Flight, which is about as quintessential a TV movie and title as you can get. Ned Beatty, Dee Wallace Stone, Barbara Bosson, John Karlen, Rene Enriquez and Jack Gilford are a group of Americans aboard a hijacked plane.
Also airing Sunday at 9 p.m. (on Channel 11) is Love at First Bite, in which George Hamilton finally got a part he could sink his teeth into--Count Dracula. It's frequently hilarious--but often gratuitously at the expense of minorities. (A sequel has just been announced.)
Coming up Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC is Dumbo, one of the most beloved of the Disney animated classics about a little elephant who learns that his big ears come in handy after all.
Airing Monday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13 is Sidney Lumet's bravura Dog Day Afternoon, in which Al Pacino stars as a bombastic, none-too-bright loser who sticks up a Brooklyn bank in a desperate attempt to finance a sex-change operation for his transsexual lover (Chris Sarandon).
In Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.), Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Angela Lansbury (as Dame Agatha's formidable amateur sleuth, Miss Marple), Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis have lots of fun in a witty mystery set in the '50s and involving the filming of "Mary, Queen of Scots" in which Taylor is to star opposite Novak's Queen Elizabeth. (With apologies to producer Hal Wallis, Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson who did make such a film, the thought of Taylor and Novak in the roles is irresistibly delicious.)
"Webster" star Emmanuel Lewis makes his TV movie debut in Lost in London (CBS Wednesday at 8 p.m.), playing a lonely boy who discovers a world of adventure in the streets of London. Ben Vereen and Lynne Moody are the boy's recently divorced parents.
Airing in two parts starting Thursday at 8 p.m. are two vintage World War II films, Midway (on Channel 5), a traditional naval battle epic with a starry cast headed by Charlton Heston, and The Great Escape (on Channel 13), that terrific suspense adventure in which Steve McQueen heads a team of Allied POWs determined to escape from a German prison camp. Both will conclude Friday at the same hour.
The "Silk Screen" series continues on Channel 50 Friday at 9:30 p.m with Stephen C. Ning's 48-minute Freckled Rice, about a 13-year-old boy's conflict between his traditional Chinese culture and the world he lives outside of it, and Emiko Omori's 13-minute The Departure, about a young Japanese-American girl growing up in the Central Valley in the '30s.
One of the major American films of the '70s, Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller (CBS Friday at 11:30 p.m.) stars Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as a pair of frontier opportunists who, for all their cynicism, prove to be ultimately naive. Through their destinies we can see writ in large strokes the desecration of the Old West. An incredibly lush mood piece, the film proceeds with a deliberate slowness that sets up a stunning finish.
In the new TV movie Chase (CBS Saturday at 9 p.m.) Jennifer O'Neill stars as a lawyer whose life becomes endangered when she defends the alleged killer (J.E. Freeman) of her mentor (Richard Farnsworth), a respected judge in her rural Washington home town.
Louis Malle's My Dinner With Andre, that cerebral comedy of ideas in which actor Wallace Shawn and man of the theater, Andre Gregory, more or less play themselves, airs Saturday at 10 p.m. on Channel 28.
Selected evening cable fare: The Blue Yonder (Disney at 8 Sunday, Saturday at 7); Places in the Heart (HBO Sunday at 8, Wednesday at 10); Saturday Night Fever (Movie Channel Sunday at 8, Friday at 6, Showtime Saturday at 9); Contract on Cherry Street (WOR Monday at 6); Songwriter (Cinemax at 8 Monday, Saturday); Breaking the Sound Barrier (Disney Monday at 9:30); Casey's Shadow (HBO Tuesday at 6); Something for Everyone (Z Tuesday at 9); The Gypsy Moths (WGN Tuesday at 9:30); Mikey and Nicky (Z Wednesday at 9); La Balance (Movie Channel Wednesday at 10:30); The Brother From Another Planet (Movie Channel Thursday at 8); She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Cinemax Friday at 8, Saturday at 10); The Missionary (HBO Friday at 10); The Red Shoes (Disney Friday at 10:30); My Favorite Year (HBO Saturday at 6); Love Streams (Z Saturday at 6:30); The Rage of Paris (AE Saturday at 7:30).