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March 01, 1987|Howard Rosenberg

"I'LL TAKE MANHATTAN," 9-11 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday (2)(8)--You can have Manhattan.

This one, at least, which is drawn from Judith Krantz's novel of the same name and is yet another chapter in the networks' great-literature series. If great literature is mind Muzak, that is.

"I'll Take Manhattan" is an eight-hour miniseries about sex, greed, sex, treachery, sex, murder and still more sex. This from a network that, along with NBC and ABC, refuses to air paid condom ads on the grounds that too many viewers would be offended. So CBS promotes loose sex? The logic is elusive.

All this takes place in a story tracing the evolution of a magazine publishing dynasty. We begin with the death of publishing magnate Zachary Amberville (Barry Bostwick). His children, Maxi (Valerie Bertinelli), Toby (Timothy Daly) and Justin (Adam Storke) are shocked to learn five months later that their mother Lily (Francesca Annis) has married Zachary's rotten brother, Cutter (Perry King), and plans to sell the publishing empire.

Now flash back to Andover, Mass., 1945. Freshly returned from World War II, Zachary finds his sweetheart doing you know what with Cutter in the back seat of a car. Zachary moves on to Manhattan, where he starts his empire and meets model Nina Stern (Jane Kaczmarek). S1751457908(rear shot, only), and sleeps with Zachary. Nina is such a hot number that they're still in bed when Zachary hires her as an editor. Then they get it on again.

When Nina later rejects his marriage proposal, Zachary marries ballet dancer Lily (initially played by Georgia Slowe). One day while dancing, Lily turns into Francesca Annis. This happens sort of the way an impressionist turns his back to get into character, then pivots toward the audience and is suddenly Jimmy Cagney.

The action really picks up when Zachary introduces Lily to Cutter.

Cutter drops by the mansion one day while Zachary is at his publishing empire. He enters Lily's bedroom and approaches her from the rear. He rubs her shoulders.

"Oh, I knew you'd come," she says.

Cutter kisses her passionately. They clutch at each other, then sink into the bed, becoming two hungry animals in a blur of lust. Lily moans in ecstacy and promises to be Cutter's sex slave.

Next scene, they're doing it in a phone booth. Next they're doing it in front of a roaring fire. Next they're doing it at a theater, during intermission, in a prop room.

"Oh, you thrill me," Lily moans again. Then she returns to her seat beside Zachary.

And this is only the first two hours.

Haven't any of these people heard about AIDS? Later there are more affairs and a couple of illegitimate pregnancies. But no offensive condom ads for those high-minded moralists at CBS.

They can take this Manhattan, and they know what they can do with it.

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