November 29, 1987|KEVIN THOMAS

The Long Journey Home (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) is a new TV movie starring Meredith Baxter Birney as an heiress and David Birney as her husband, long presumed dead in Vietnam, whose reappearance entangles them in a web of betrayal, murder and international intrigue.

A Little Sex (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) has considerable charm, but it's a strained attempt to transplant '30s screwball comedy to the '80s and, worse yet, reinforces the old double standard. Most of the charm comes from Kate Capshaw and Tim Matheson as her straying husband.

The Secret Garden (CBS Monday at 9 p.m.) is a new TV movie version of the beloved Frances Hodgson Burnett children's classic. Gennie James (pictured on the cover) stars as a young orphan, raised in India, who is sent to live at the imposing Misselthwaite Manor.

Fatal Confession: A Father Dowling Mystery (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.) is another new TV movie, starring Tom Bosley as a parish priest with a knack for solving mysteries.

In Harry & Son (Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) Paul Newman plays a crackerjack demolition man; unfortunately, before even half of this meandering and soggy film is over, Newman, as co-writer, co-producer, director and co-star, has flattened everything in sight, audience included. A recent widower, Newman clashes with his son Robby Benson and overlooks Joanne Woodward as a zesty, free-spirited pet-shop owner. Meanwhile, ne'er-do-well Benson is struggling to hold on to a job and trying to re-establish his relationship with Woodward's daughter Ellen Barkin.

Thief of Hearts (Channel 13 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) cries for the lushness of old-fashioned movie melodrama but has been made like a routine TV movie. (It was in fact a 1984 theatrical release.) The result is more silly than romantic. Steven Bauer is wasted as a sleek San Francisco thief who falls for a high-tech interior designer (Barbara Williams) when he reads the drivel in her diaries, which he has stolen along with more valuable items.

Channel 5 repeats the superb, Oscar-laden Amadeus Wednesday at 7 p.m., which it first aired last week.

Night People (Thursday at 8 p.m. on Channel 5) is Nunnally Johnson's absorbing tale of Cold War espionage, starring Gregory Peck and Broderick Crawford.

Plaza Suite (ABC Thursday at 9 p.m.) is a new TV movie version of the Neil Simon play in which Carol Burnett stars in all three of its separate episodes opposite Hal Holbrook, Dabney Coleman and Richard Crenna. (In the 1971 movie version, it was Walter Matthau who played three roles.)

Woody Allen's Zelig (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.) is a sweet, piercing, startlingly inventive film, a little rueful around its edges, in which Allen fakes a documentary about one Leonard Zelig, a fictional character (played by Allen) who in his meteoric moment in the public eye stood somewhere between Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth because of an extraordinary gift. This is a film of much technical brilliance, wit and also a rather distanced commentary about the perils of living a life in a goldfish bowl.

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