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February 02, 1986|KEVIN THOMAS

In Help Wanted: Kids Cindy Williams and Bill Hudson (real-life wife and husband) play a married couple who hire two children in order to land a new job. It is the first film in the new "Disney Sunday Movie" series, Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC.

It will be a choice of Joan Collins playing a publishing tycoon in Sins or Maximilian Schell as Peter the Great as these two miniseries occupy the movie slots on CBS and NBC for several nights. Sins gets under way Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS, Peter the Great Sunday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Meanwhile, ABC is hanging in Sunday at 9 p.m., following the new Disney movie, with the 1983 James Bond adventure, Octopussy, which proves to be business as usual, no better and no worse than most of its predecessors. This time out, a zealous Soviet general (Steven Berkoff) has hatched a diabolical scheme to force Western Europe to surrender to the U.S.S.R. Mixed up with Berkoff in ways that become increasingly difficult to unravel are ace smuggler-entrepreneur Octopussy (Maud Adams) and an exiled Afghan prince (Louis Jourdan).

El Dorado (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) is a superb late example of Howard Hawks' so seemingly casual style which allows him in a disarmingly comic way to treat the serious matter of the meaning of friendship in all its aspects. The entire plot of this 1967 Western, which stars John Wayne and Robert Mitchum, turns upon the fact that one rancher has hired gunmen to wrest water rights from another; as the situation grows grimmer, the movie gets funnier.

In the new TV movie The Gladiator (ABC Monday at 9 p.m.), Ken Wahl stars as a man determined to avenge his brother's death in a hit-and-run accident. It was directed by Abel Ferrara, director of the vengeance cult film "Ms. 45."

One of the most influential films of all time--and one of the finest films of both John Ford and John Wayne--The Searchers (Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is the classic trek movie in which Wayne embarks on a years-long odyssey in search of his niece, captured by Indians. Natalie Wood plays the niece as a teen-ager.

Other oldies but goodies screening this week are the terrific World War II adventure Guns of Navarone (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) and Hard Times (Channel 11 Friday at 9 p.m.), one of the very best films Charles Bronson ever made--and the first film directed by Walter Hill. In this highly existentialist tale, Bronson survives in Depression-era New Orleans as a bare-knuckle street fighter.

Blade Runner (CBS Saturday at 9 p.m.) takes place in the used-up future: Los Angeles in 2019, a dense and ominous metropolis. The Japanese and the Latinos have tipped the population balance in their direction. With most of its neon signs in Oriental characters, South Broadway looks a bit like the Ginza at rush hour. Director Ridley Scott and his crew have made a sensational-looking film that combines film noir and sci-fi to probe a highly dangerous world in which it's hard to tell who's human any more and who is or who is not a replicant, robots that turn deadly when they become defective. One of those who can tell is ex-cop bounty hunter Harrison Ford, reluctantly pressed back into service. But that's all there is to the film, alas. Great as it looks, it's a pretty hollow business.

Selected evening cable fare: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Showtime Sunday at 6); Into the Night (Z Sunday at 7); The Flamingo Kid (Movie Channel Sunday at 8); Alice Adams (Cinemax Monday at 10); Touch of Evil (Z Tuesday at 7); Blood Simple (Movie Channel Tuesday at 10); The Battle of Algiers (Z Wednesday at 7); Mrs. Soffel (HBO Wednesday at 8); The Actress (Cinemax Thursday at 6:30); The Shop on Main Street (Z Thursday at 6:30); Hopscotch (Showtime Friday at 10); A Passage to India (SelecTV Saturday at 7); Brief Encounter (Movie Channel Saturday at 7:30).

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