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Preview '95 : Cable Series' Learning Curve

September 10, 1995|TED JOHNSON | Ted Johnson is a frequent contributor to Calendar and TV Times

The networks this fall seem to have all the exciting angles covered: shows with cinema verite camera work, young and urbane characters who hang out together, snappy laugh tracks. When it comes to its new programming, cable has, well, lots of documentaries.

But cable programmers say that their offerings--while not equaled in the hype--cannot be found on broadcast TV. And really, it only makes sense that viewers will be able to find an elaborate telling of the American Revolution on The Learning Channel and a movie buff's newscast on American Movie Classics.

So get ready for some learning. Here is a look at some of cable's new offerings:

A&E

"Si-File": Tales of science and natural phenomena. And attention O.J. watchers: it starts with high-tech detectives who use toxicology, psychiatry and archeology to crack cases. Sundays at 5 and 7 p.m. Already premiered.

"Biography: This Week": A spinoff of the network's flagship series focuses on the most fascinating newsmaker of the past seven days. Saturdays at 5 and 9 p.m. Already premiered.

AMC

"AMC's Hollywood Report": Movie news for the classic cinema viewer, hosted by Wayne Rogers. Monthly. Premieres Oct. 14.

"Remember WENN": A drama-comedy about radio's golden days, from 1939 to 1943. TBA. Premieres in November.

THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL

"Planet of Life": The seven-part documentary goes way back (3.8 billion years to be exact) to chronicle plant and human evolution. Mondays at 9 p.m. Premieres Oct. 2.

"Rediscovering America With David Hartman": The "Good Morning America" veteran looks at the great Alaska Highway, Dec. 5 at 10 p.m.; the Klondike gold rush, Feb. 7; and Benjamin Franklin, Feb. 29.

"Wild Discovery": A five-night-a-week anthology of stories on wildlife and natural phenomena, including African predators, dinosaurs, geysers and glaciers. Weeknights at 8 p.m. and midnight. Premieres Sept. 25.

"Sci-Trek": The series answers the question "How?"--whether it be lightning or avalanches. Mondays at 9 p.m. and Saturdays at 3 p.m. Premieres Nov. 27.

"Rivals!": Gerald McRaney narrates stories of history's greatest showdowns, including Robert Kennedy vs. Jimmy Hoffa, George Wallace vs. Martin Luther King Jr., even Boris Karloff vs. Bela Lugosi. Fridays at 10 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 p.m. Premieres Sept. 29.

"Human Nature": Profiles of individuals dedicated to saving animals, hosted by Olivia Newton-John. Saturdays at noon and Sundays at 7 p.m. Premieres Oct. 1.

"The Popular Mechanics Show": The world's innovations are explained--in a lay person's language. Weekdays at 5 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at noon. Premieres Sept. 25.

fX

"Lost & Found": You name the persons, and they will find them. Real people are reunited with loved ones, old friends, secret admirers, missing pets and favorite cars. Saturdays at 8 p.m. Already premiered.

THE HISTORY CHANNEL

"Modern Marvels": Tributes to the greatest structures ever built, from Mount Rushmore to the Brooklyn Bridge. Sundays at 9 p.m. Premieres Sept. 17.

"History Alive": Roger Mudd hosts a nightly anthology about the places that make history, starting with the monuments and sites of Washington, D.C. Weekdays at 9 p.m. Premieres Oct. 2.

THE LEARNING CHANNEL

"The Revolutionary War": Charles Kuralt narrates a fresh six-hour take on the American Revolution (A&E presented its documentary last season), with a music score by Don Grady of "My Three Sons" fame. Nov. 26-28 at 5 p.m.

"Great Palaces of the World": The homes of the rich and famous, going back to Doge's Palace in Venice. Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. Premieres Sept. 28.

"Wonders of Weather": An in-depth look at the stuff that makes such great small talk, like rain, snow and sleet. Wednesdays at 5 p.m. and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. Premieres Sept. 27.

"History's Turning Points": Pocahontas gets married. Antony and Cleopatra commit suicide. China's first emperor builds a big wall. The world will never be the same. Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Premieres Sept. 25.

"Ultrascience": Offbeat snapshots of scientific facts, such as sex appeal and deja vu. Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Premieres Sept. 27.

"Simply Style": Fashion expert Leah Feldon gives tips on being stylish without being too trendy. Weekdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Saturdays at 8 a.m. Premieres Sept. 25.

SCI-FI CHANNEL

"Anti-Gravity Room": This magazine looks at "everything young adults care about." In other words, comic books and video games. TBA. Premieres in October.

"On-Line Showcase": Techies get ready. One rerun a week, e.g. "Land of the Giants" and "Lost in Space," will be pegged for an online discussion. TBA.

SHOWTIME

"Picture Windows": It's "Night Gallery" by today's top auteurs-- such directors as Norman Jewison and Peter Bogdanovich present short tales inspired by famous paintings. Oct. 1.

TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES

"Reel Memories": The network's answer to AMC's "Reflections," hosted by Robert Osborne. Day and time varies. Already premiered.

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