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February 12, 1989|KEVIN THOMAS

As sequels go, The Black Stallion Returns (Channel 5 Sunday at 6 p.m.) is well above the old Disney adventure fare yet below the almost unreachable mark set by the first film, which looked at the relationship between a boy (Kelly Reno, who returns) and his horse with entirely fresh eyes.

Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins' whimsical and suspenseful 1981 Dragonslayer (Channel 13 Sunday at 6 p.m.) features the wondrously scary Vermithrax Pejorative, the terror of 6th-Century Britain. Ralph Richardson stars in this glorious Dark Ages adventure as an old sorcerer, with Peter MacNichol as his young apprentice.

Without the affecting setting of the last days of the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, the 1983 Under Fire (Channel 9 Sunday at 7 p.m.) would simply be a weary old love triangle between journalists Nick Nolte, Joanna Cassidy and Gene Hackman; there's an edge to Nolte's growing loss of objectivity, but the film makers tend to walk away from it.

The 1986 Psycho III (Channel 5 Sunday at 8 p.m.) is better than "Psycho II," yet fails any sequel's acid test: It feeds off the original (which was complete in itself in any event) without deepening it. This time Anthony Perkins directed--effectively as possible--as well as reprising Norman Bates.

Casablanca, one of the most beloved of American movies, returns on Channel 13 Sunday at 8 p.m.

The Outside Woman (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie inspired by actual events, stars Sharon Gless as a Louisiana millworker who forsakes her humdrum life when she becomes involved with prison inmate Scott Glenn.

Perry Mason: The Case of the Lethal Lesson (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.) finds Raymond Burr returning as Mason, who defends a young law student (William R. Moses) accused of killing the son of Mason's longtime friend (Brian Keith).

Raiders of the Lost Ark, which did such a terrific job of capturing the fun of the old Saturday matinee serials, is back on ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.

The 1986 Nothing in Common (Channel 5 Monday at 8 p.m.) afforded the late Jackie Gleason an extraordinary career farewell. He portrays a burnt-out Chicago children's clothing salesman as if he was playing Willy Loman; Tom Hanks is the advertising whiz kid son who loathes him but who must come to terms with him now that his mother (Eva Marie Saint) has finally left him.

The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie about the terrorist takeover of a luxury cruise ship, stars Lee Grant and Karl Malden as Marilyn and Leon Klinghoffer, principal victims of the terrorists.

Mask (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) forthrightly introduces us to a San Fernando Valley 15-year-old, beautifully played by Eric Stoltz, and lets us get used to his cruelly disfigured face until we discover what is really exceptional about him: his level-headedness and sweet spirit. First-time writer Anna Hamilton Phelan and director Peter Bogdanovich also have created a stunning role for Cher, ferociously fine as the boy's mother, a strong yet vulnerable woman with a taste for lowlife men and amphetamine highs.

The Shining (Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is the most ambitious movie ever adapted from a Stephen King novel--though Stanley Kubrick's mesmerizing 1980 film strangely sacrificed most of its flavor and shock. Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, as ordinary people trapped in a snowbound madhouse of a hotel with a mind of its own, were cheated a little by the overly spare script. But this is one film you can watch solely for the visuals--the tracking shots alone are enough to curdle your blood.

Babycakes (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie based on the outstanding German comedy "Sugarbaby," stars "Hairspray's" Ricki Lake as a lonely, overweight young woman searching for love.

Amadeus, the enthralling 1984 multi-Oscar winner, returns with Tom Hulce in the title role Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Channel 5.

Sybil, the 1976 TV movie which brought Sally Field an Emmy as a young woman with 16 personalities, is repeated Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13.

Other entertaining oldies airing in prime time include Escape From New York (Channel 5 Thursday at 8), MASH (Channel 5 Friday at 8) and Room at the Top (Channel 28 Saturday at 10).

Blazing Saddles (Channel 13 Saturday at 10 p.m.), the 1974 Western spoof starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder, is Mel Brooks at his most raucous, rowdy and hilarious.

The ratings checks on movies in the TV log are provided by the Tribune TV Log listings service.

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