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July 10, 1988|Kevin Thomas

Somehow John Candy managed to survive the 1983 Going Berserk (Channel 13 Sunday at 6 p.m.), about the misadventures of a nerdish part-time limo driver and would-be drummer.

Paul Verhoeven's gory Flesh & Blood (Channel 13 Sunday at 8 p.m.) is a medieval adventure-love saga in which all the cliches have been turned inside out. Instead of chivalry, the 1985 movie focuses on swinishness and brutality. Instead of love it offers lust and lechery; instead of heroism, pillage and murder. The "instead-ofs" go on and on, leaving us no one to root for and everything and everybody finally a turn-off. Rutger Hauer and Jack Thompson star.

The Natural (NBC Sunday at 8:30 p.m.) is a sadly ponderous adaptation of Bernard Malamud's 1952 allegorical tragicomedy about baseball and a second chance at the American Dream. Director Barry Levinson and writers Roger Towne and Phil Dusenberry have given us a shiny, hugely ambitious saga with Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, an almost-over-the-hill baseball player who takes on the world with a hand-carved, wood-burned bat that might easily have been named Excalibur the Wonderboy. Part of the problem in this bizarre mix of sports history and Arthurian legend is Redford, who embodies Roy without defining him. Ironically, everyone else in this 1984 film is superb in a cast that includes Barbara Hershey, Kim Basinger, Glenn Close, Wilford Brimley, Richard Farnsworth, Robert Prosky, Darren McGavin and Joe Don Baker (as Babe Ruth).

The repeat of Kane & Abel concludes on CBS at 9 p.m. while Lace II, with Phoebe Cates, gets under way at the same time on ABC, concluding Monday at 9 p.m.

A most unconventional war movie, yet full of the noise of battle, the 1970 Patton (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m., completed Tuesday at 8 p.m.) gives no perfect solution to either doves or hawks. It is a portrait, not an argument, and that is its salvation. Written by Francis Coppola and Edmund H. North and directed impeccably by Franklin Schaffner, Patton is extraordinary for its mix of action and deft illumination of an amazingly complex man, brought to proud, robust life unforgettably by George C. Scott.

In Jonathan Kaplan's 1983 Heart Like a Wheel (Channel 11 Monday at 8 p.m.) Bonnie Bedelia is splendid as Shirley Muldowney, a blue-collar woman who became a champion car racer and had a tumultuous romance with another racer, played as a disarming heartbreaker by Beau Bridges. It's a lovely film that maps a determined woman's survival course and which cherishes its Middle American milieu without condescension.

The Abduction of Kari Swenson (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), a 1987 TV movie, stars Tracy Pollan in a true story about a biathlon champion abducted and shot by two "mountain men."

Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion (NBC Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is the 1987 TV movie bringing the TV-series Bradfords back for father Tom's 50th birthday. Dick Van Patten stars.

Kids Don't Tell (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is a disappointing, drawn-out 1985 TV movie dealing with child molestation. Michael Ontkean and JoBeth Williams star.

Fireball Forward (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) is a solid 1972 World War II TV movie starring Ben Gazzara, who assumes command of a division that's been dogged by bad luck. Written by "Patton's" Edmund H. North, it includes some combat footage from that film.

Negligible viewing: The Alchemist (Channel 13 Wednesday at 8 p.m.), an obscure Charles Band 1983 horror flick.

Much better is Band's Trancers (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.), an unpretentious and amusing low-budget science-fiction entertainment that takes us 300 years into the future only to zap us right back into the present. It seems that a villainous "trancer," described as being "not quite alive and not dead enough," has escaped from the future to 1985, taking over the body of an LAPD lieutenant. What to do but send top future cop Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) back to the past to catch him?

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