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April 22, 1990|Kevin Thomas

The 1981 Only When I Laugh (Channel 5 Sunday at 6 p.m.) is one of the best Neil Simon movies--a warm, wry consideration of the nature of friendship centering on a newly dried-out Broadway star (Marsha Mason), her daughter (Kristy McNichol) and the star's two best friends, played by Joan Hackett and James Coco.

Robert Urich stars in The Comeback (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.), a routine 1989 TV movie in which he plays an ex-football star who means to get acquainted with the grown son (Mitchell Anderson) he barely knows, only to fall for the youth's girlfriend (Chynna Phillips).

Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.) is standard Mason TV movie fare, this time centering on a missing heiress.

The disastrous 1987 Leonard Part 6 (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) is a smug, tedious exercise in self-indulgence in which Bill Cosby tries to resurrect the tongue-in-cheek high adventure of his "I Spy" days while remaining the father figure of his "Cosby Show."

Directed by Don Siegel, the 1977 Telefon (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m.) is a diverting, sleek but very slight spy thriller, with Charles Bronson and Lee Remick.

Sylvester Stallone got John Travolta in terrific shape for Staying Alive (Channel 13 Wednesday at 8 p.m.), the 1983 sequel to "Saturday Night Fever," but writer-director Stallone's attempt to graft a "Rocky"-like plot on to Travolta's pursuit of Broadway stardom misfires, particularly in the film's campy finale production number, called "Satan's Alley."

Back to School (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.), the 1986 summer hit, is a big belly laugh of a comedy that casts Rodney Dangerfield as a college freshman.

Set in the forbidding wasteland of the future, George Miller's The Road Warrior (Channel 13 Saturday at 5 p.m.), with Mel Gibson in the title role, is a slam-bang entertainment envisioning a gas-starved post-apocalyptic world in which scavengers prowl a shimmering strip of highway, ready to kill for a tank of fuel.

Sleepy-eyed, sexy and vulnerable, Nicolas Cage made a sensational film debut in Martha Coolidge's sweet, fast, unpretentious, funny and even touching 1983 Valley Girl (Channel 5 Saturday at 6 p.m.) as a working-class Hollywood High Romeo who falls for a nice, decent, affluent Juliet (Deborah Foreman, in the title role).

Be warned: George Stevens' classic 1939 adventure Gunga Din (Channel 5 Saturday at 8 p.m.) is airing in a colorized version.

Nowhere to Hide (Channel 13 Saturday at 8 p.m.) is nothing much as an action thriller about a military cover-up, but it has a fine star in Amy Madigan as a marine widow.

Hitchcock's wartime classic Lifeboat (Channel 28 Saturday at 10 p.m.), with Tallulah Bankhead as the principal survivor of a shipwreck, was a special challenge for the director to make his trademark appearance, but he succeeded, just as he did in bringing the John Steinbeck story to the screen.

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

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