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February 23, 1986|Howard Rosenberg

"CROSSINGS" and "BLOOD & ORCHIDS"--Can your heart take all this excitement?

CBS' "Sins" beat NBC's "Peter the Great" in this month's first miniseries battle. And now, yes, it's this week's clash of the titans, ABC's six-hour "Crossings" (9-11 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday on Channels 7, 3, 10, 42) and the CBS four-hour "Blood & Orchids" (9-11 p.m. Sunday and Monday on Channels 2 and 8).

This is beginning to sound like a Japanese Godzilla movie.

Grab a pen and paper and get this down. "Crossings" is based on a Danielle Steel best-selling book that sold more than three million copies. Chances are you have one of them, so you'll probably want to watch the miniseries with eagle eyes to make sure ABC has not tampered with Danielle's rich prose.

Cheryl Ladd, Lee Horsley, Christopher Plummer and Jane Seymour are the stars. The story begins in 1939 when handsome steel magnate Nick Burnham (Horsley), his promiscuous wife Hillary (Seymour) and their young son set off on a transatlantic cruise to Europe. And they're attacked by Rambo? Don't you just wish! Instead, Nick gets an eyeful of Liane DeVilliers (Ladd), the smashing wife of a French swine (Plummer), and I don't have to tell you what happens.

Then they're attacked by Rambo.

You think that's something? Just listen to this. "Blood & Orchids" is based on Norman Katkov's best-selling book. That's two best-sellers brought to the screen in one week. And they say TV's a wasteland.

Jane Alexander, Kris Kristofferson, Jose Ferrer, Sean Young, Madeline Stowe, Susan Blakely and Richard Dysart are the stars of this story, set in Hawaii in the 1930s (just as a historical note, that pre-dates "Hawaii Five-0" and "Magnum, P.I."). It seems that prejudice and corruption prevail among the island's establishment when four Hawaiian youths are falsely accused of beating and raping a U.S. Navy officer's wife.

Now, here is the incredible irony. Where is "Blood & Orchids" set? Hawaii. And what happened there in 1941? The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and brought the United States into World War II.

And the setting for "Crossings" is an ocean just prior to World War II.

Two miniseries with connections to World War II--both based on best-selling novels and both having stars named Jane--and they premiere on the same Sunday. I mean, what are the odds? Not only that, but Jane Alexander once played Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was our President when Pearl Harbor was bombed. And Jane Seymour's native country, Britain, was bombed by the Germans in World War II. And Kris Kristofferson was a Rhodes scholar in that very same country. Am I on to something here or what?

Talk to you next week.

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