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IN THE SPOTLIGHT

April 13, 1986|HOWARD ROSENBERG

"DREAM WEST," 9-11 p.m. Sunday (2)(8)--Two versions and visions of Americana clash Sunday night.

On NBC (Channels 4, 36 and 39), it's "Return to Mayberry," a golly swell and sentimental little movie updating Andy, Opie, Barney, Gomer, Goober and the rest of those lovable small towners from "The Andy Griffith Show," which ran on CBS from 1960-68.

CBS follows an infinitely more pretentious route. It's on the trail of that famous 19th-Century American explorer/adventurer John Charles Fremont in the unpreviewed "Dream West," a three-part, seven-hour miniseries, whose second and third installments air 9-11 p.m. Monday and 8-11 p.m. Tuesday, respectively. The story's inspiration is a best-selling 1983 novel by David Nevin (not to be confused with the late actor, David Niven).

The P.R. mills are revved up and grinding for this production, which stars dashing Richard Chamberlain (shown on the cover) as Fremont and fetching Alice Krige as Fremont's wife, Jessie. Or to put it in CBS' words, this is the story of the "extraordinary Fremont, the free-spirited woman who impelled him to dare undreamt-of feats and the young nation they helped to shape." It sounds almost like "Bonnie and Clyde."

The cast also includes Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham (as Abraham Lincoln), Rene Enriquez, Ben Johnson, Jerry Orbach, G.D. Spradlin, Rip Torn, Fritz Weaver and Anthony Zerbe.

Covering nearly half a century, the drama reunites Chamberlain, one of TV's most popular leading men, and Krige, who played opposite Chamberlain in last season's "Wallenberg: A Hero's Story."

And if that isn't enough of an attraction, CBS discloses that 24 states have Fremont locales. For example, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming have Fremont counties, Iowa has both a county and a town, and cities, towns or villages named Fremont can be found in a dozen states.

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