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Prime-Time Flicks

February 25, 1996|Kevin Thomas

Under Siege (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) is one of Steven Seagal's best: A good-looking, high-tech 1992 thriller directed by Andrew Davis that takes its simple hook--"Die Hard" on a battleship, with Segal as a karate heroic cook--and keeps ramming home the blood and glitz. Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey play the ace heavies.

The crowning glory of Kenneth Branagh's high-spirited 1992 Much Ado About Nothing (KCET Sunday at 9 p.m.), Shakespeare's romantic comedy of lovers at cross-purposes, is that it gives us Kenneth Branagh (who also directed) and Emma Thompson, the English-speaking world's reigning acting pair performing at the top of their game. (They've since separated). Also starring Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves and Robert Sean Leonard, "Much Ado" is a model of popular Shakespeare, enormously entertaining without a note of condescension.

With Clint Eastwood starring as a veteran Secret Service agent in Wolfgang Petersen's crisply entertaining 1993 In the Line of Fire (Fox Tuesday at 8 p.m.), the key question is, "Who gets to play the implacable assassin sworn to drop the President?" The great choice was John Malkovich, who received an Oscar nomination for providing an intrinsically evil presence, an ideal foil for Eastwood's blunt delivery. Traumatized ever since the killing of J.F.K., Eastwood's Frank Horrigan wants to be on hand when Malkovich makes his next move.

Heartbreak Ridge (KCOP Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.), director-star Clint Eastwood's 1986 take on the Grenada invasion, is an old-fashioned, tough-sergeant-and-rowdy-recruits tale, with a world war moral and dramatic structure. It focuses on Eastwood's crusty Gunny and his career and, of course, problems with the opposite gender.

In Allie Light's absorbing 1994 Dialogues With Madwomen (KCET Friday at 11 p.m.) seven highly articulate women of superior intelligence tell us their stories of enduring--and eventually overcoming--mental illness. Neither a downer nor a dry series of case studies, the documentary is a warm, encouraging experience shot through with survivors' humor.

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