Terry Gilliam's warped and wonderful 1981 fantasy Time Bandits (Channel 5 Sunday at 6 p.m.) fairly bristles with wit, invention, a wry and fey intelligence and a conjurer's chest of dazzling effects. It revolves around a bright, endearing British 11-year-old (Craig Warnock) who takes off with a six-pack of dwarfs who have stolen a map that charts a few dropped stitches in the fabric of the universe--virtual trips through space and time. Soon the boy is swept away in a cross section of history, real and legendary. He will meet Agamemnon (Sean Connery) and Robin Hood (John Cleese) and go from the time of Napoleon to the maiden voyage of the Titanic.
The new TV movie Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) brings us up-to-date with the people of the 1959-63 TV series, "The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis." Dwayne Hickman and Bob Denver head a cast of actors from the original series.
Pierce Brosnan, Deborah Raffin and Ben Masters star in the miniseries version of James Clavell's Noble House (NBC Sunday through Wednesday at 9 p.m.), a tale of romance, intrigue and international power struggles in contemporary Hong Kong.
Urban Cowboy (Channel 13 Monday at 8 p.m.) documents life at Gilley's, the saloon near Houston where factory workers go dressed as cowboys to ride the mechanical bulls. The 1980 film is rambunctious, macho (and uneven), and it became very popular. John Travolta is winning as a farm boy who goes to the big city to get an oil refinery job. However, it is most notable for showing off the talent of then-newcomer Debra Winger as Travolta's wife and for honing in on the acting skills of Scott Glenn, lean and menacing as the resident villain.
The Neverending Story (Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is a shimmering, glorious adventure, full of silky-maned dragons with opalescent scales and the eyes and soul of a cocker spaniel. Directed by "Das Boot's" Wolfgang Petersen from the first half of Michael Ende's intricate fantasy, the 1984 production is a beguiling enchantment with a revolutionary message: The most important world is the inner one. It is the fortress of our dreams and hopes and can be reached only through books. That interior world (a real kingdom, called Fantasia, in the film) is "all we have to set against reality. Without it, our world is desolate and empty." The hero is a solemn 10-year-old (Barret Oliver) who has just lost his mother and who under suspiciously magical circumstances comes into possession of an amazing book, "The Neverending Story," which draws him--and us--into high adventure.
Joining Time Bandits and The Neverending Story in this week's offerings is a more venerable yet timeless fantasy, The Wizard of Oz (CBS Wednesday at 8 p.m.), in which for the umpteenth time on TV, Dorothy, the little Kansas farm girl, and her dog, Toto, will trek down that Yellow Brick Road. Judy Garland, of course, is Dorothy, Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow; Jack Haley, the Tin Man; Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion, and Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West.
The movie pickings in prime time Thursday and Friday are so slim you'll wish you had cable, where Louis Malle's sly, subtle Thief of Paris (Z Thursday at 7 p.m.) finds Jean-Paul Belmondo caught up in a life of crime, and another French film, Practice Makes Perfect (Bravo Thursday at 8 p.m.) shows a conceited, womanizing concert pianist (Jean Rochefort, a wonderful comedian) getting his comeuppance.
Those films are lots more appetizing than Hot Moves (Channel 11 Thursday at 8 p.m.), yet another of those lewd, loud, gross, knuckleheaded comedies aimed at teen-agers.
On Friday you'd fare better with the recent and popular Matthew Broderick movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Z Friday at 7 p.m.), than with either Lunch Wagon (Channel 11 Friday at 8 p.m.), a lowbrow 1981 caper that finds three mindless co-eds trying to earn money during summer vacation, or The Sword and the Sorcerer (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.), a truly terrible and sloppy 1982 epic about vengeance and black magic in the Middle Ages.
If you missed Peter Bogdanovich's remarkable film Mask when it aired earlier this month, you have another chance when Channel 5 brings it back Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Cinderella Liberty, in which James Caan and Marsha Mason star in a winsome romance between a sailor and a hooker, returns Saturday at 10 p.m. on Channel 9.
Selected evening cable fare: Reds (USA Sunday at 6); The Mosquito Coast (SelecTV Sunday at 7, Friday at 7); Coup de Torchon (Bravo Sunday at 8); Crocodile Dundee (Showtime Sunday at 8); Back to School (Cinemax Sunday at 9, Friday at 6); The Bedroom Window (Movie Channel Sunday at 9); Lucas (SelecTV Sunday at 9); Kitty Foyle (A&E Monday at 6); Summer (SelecTV Monday at 7); Used Cars (Cinemax Monday at 8); My Fair Lady (Disney Channel Monday at 9); Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) (WGN Monday at 9:30); Peggy Sue Got Married (SelecTV Tuesday at 7); Chimes at Midnight (Z Tuesday at 7); To Live and Die in L.A. (HBO Tuesday at 8); Amadeus (Showtime Tuesday at 8); The Best of Times (Movie Channel Tuesday at 9); Far From the Madding Crowd (Z Tuesday at 9); Help! (Showtime Wednesday at 6:30); Banjo on My Knee (Z Wednesday at 7); The Spider's Stratagem (Bravo Wednesday at 8:30); How the West Was Won (Z Thursday at 9); The Time Machine (WGN Thursday at 9:30).