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Prime-Time Flicks

August 07, 1994|Kevin Thomas

In the 1990 Ernest Goes to Jail (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), Jim Varney's Ernest P. Worrell, that demented motor mouth, gets in trouble because of his resemblance to a look-alike deranged prison kingpin (also played by Varney).

Steven Spielberg's interminable 1989 Always (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) is an ill-advised remake of the 1943 "A Guy Named Joe." Richard Dreyfuss plays a flying ace who's killed but allowed by an angel (Audrey Hepburn) to come back to help a new pilot (Brad Johnson) become the hotshot he had been. Starring Holly Hunter as the pilots' shared love interest.

A teen-age girl's need for a bone marrow transplant and her mother's refusal to allow a younger brother to be a donor hurtles a family to the brink of destruction in the worthy 1992 Desperate Choices: To Save My Child (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), which stars Reese Witherspoon, Bruce Davison and Joanna Kerns.

In Allie Light's warm and encouraging Dialogues With Madwomen (KCET Tuesday at 10 p.m.), seven highly articulate women tell us their stories of enduring and eventually overcoming mental illness.

KCET is airing Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock in the shorter, original release version (3 hours, 4 minutes). The landmark documentary-concert film is also available in a 4 1/2-hour version.

Although not without flaws, Blake Edwards' 1991 comedy Switch (KCOP Thursday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m.) has a modern sense of confusion about sexual roles and social masks. The film tries to find a sense of responsibility--or empathy or humanism--in the midst of sexual chaos. Murdered by three infuriated mistresses, a callous, high-rolling New York ad executive (Perry King) is sent back to Earth as a woman (Ellen Barkin, whose scenes crackle with danger) to somehow redeem him/herself.

The 1987 Hamburger Hill (KCOP Friday at 8 p.m.) pays heartfelt, richly deserved tribute to one of the Vietnam War's bloodiest battles. However, it lapses into a preachy attack on the anti-war movement without ever questioning U.S. involvement in the war in the first place.

In 1980 Frank Sinatra ended a near-decade absence from the screen with The First Deadly Sin (KCOP Saturday at 8 p.m.), in which he played, with a fresh charge of passion and commitment. He plays a New York homicide detective with an adored, dying wife (Faye Dunaway) and who is on the verge of retirement when a maniac goes on a lethal rampage. This is solid, absorbing fare--until its disturbing vigilante finish.

Annette O'Toole and Anthony Andrews star in Jewels, a two-part 1992 miniseries (NBC Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 9 p.m.) based on a Danielle Steel story. The saga here covers four decades in the life of an American socialite and the English royal family into which she marries.

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