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Prime-Time Flicks

September 26, 1993|Kevin Thomas

In the 1991 Sleeping With the Enemy (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) the modest setting of Nancy Price's novel has been gentrified. Her believable fiction has been tarted up into flossy melodrama to better showcase the unassuming, extremely bankable talents of its star Julia Roberts. Patrick Bergin plays the sadistic husband.

The 1990 TV movie The Tragedy of Flight 103: The Inside Story (KCAL Sunday at 9 p.m.) doesn't explain where its "new" information comes from, but does deliver 90 minutes of chills and tingles in a finger-pointing version of the events leading up to the explosion of the Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988.

The late maestro of disaster movies, Irwin Allen, found enough thrills in his 1975 TV-movie version of The Swiss Family Robinson (KDOC Monday at 6 p.m.) that he had enough left over for a brief series spinoff.

The 1989 Communion (KTTV Monday at 8 p.m.), a serious and sometimes persuasive attempt to dramatize writer Whitley Strieber's supposed contact with aliens, affords Christopher Walken one of his showiest roles ever.

A Circle of Children (KDOC Tuesday at 6 p.m.), an outstanding 1977 TV movie directed by Don Taylor and based on the autobiographical novel by Mary MacCracken, stars a superb Jane Alexander as a woman who works at a school for autistic children.

Even though the 1977 TV-movie pilot for Fantasy Island (KDOC Wednesday at 6 p.m.) is relentlessly tedious and unconvincing, that didn't stop it from becoming a highly successful series. Bill Bixby, Hugh O'Brian and Eleanor Parker were the first to shell out the $50,000 fee to have their wishes fulfilled.

The second (1978) TV pilot, Return to Fantasy Island, (KDOC Thursday at 6 p.m.) offers more of the same.

Nick Nolte's professional criminal and Martin Short's desperate amateur make a hilarious odd couple in Three Fugitives (ABC Saturday at 8 p.m.), but this 1989 comedy is marred by contrivance and heavy-handedness.

Michael Verhoeven's 1983 The White Rose (KCET Saturday at 10:40 p.m.) is a taut and richly textured account of a small group of heroic Munich university students who risk their lives by disseminating anti-Nazi handbills. Lena Stolze stars.

On the late, very late show, there's The Bigamist (KABC next Sunday, Oct. 3 at 3 a.m.), one of several forthright, socially concerned dramas directed by Ida Lupino in the early '50s. Lupino co-stars with Joan Fontaine and Edmond O'Brien.

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