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Highlights

TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : PBS discovers 'The West'; NBC reserves a 'London Suite'; HBO congas with Gloria Estefan in Miami

September 15, 1996|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday / "Tarzan's Return" / 5 p.m. KCAL

Joe Lara, who played the swingin' ape dude in a 1989 TV movie, again dons the loin cloth for this two-hour pilot launching a new syndicated series called "Tarzan: The Epic Adventures." Would this exist if not for the success of "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess"? We'd wager not.

****

"The West" / Sunday-Thursday / 8 p.m. KCET

The man who gave us exhaustive chronicles of the Civil War and baseball turns his attention to the American West in this eight-part PBS series. Ken Burns is executive producer and creative consultant for the program, which concludes with a two-hour episode on Sept. 24. Directed by Stephen Ives, the series is described as a story of people whose actions changed history and shaped the nation. Along the trail it attempts to separate fact from fiction about the lives of Hispanics, Mormons, African Americans, Chinese immigrants, Native Americans and Midwestern homesteaders. Westward ho!

****

"Undue Influence" / 9 p.m. CBS / Concludes Tuesday at 9 p.m.

A new season brings more movies with the busy Brian Dennehy, who appeared last year in "Dead Man's Walk," "Season in Purgatory" and the Jack Reed cop movies for NBC. In this thrller based on a book by Steve Martini, the burly Dennehy portrays a defense attorney snagged in a web of murder and infidelity when he helps his sister-in-law (Patricia Richardson) win a custody battle against her ex-husband (Richard Masur), a politician with pull.

****

"London Suite" / 9 p.m. NBC

First there was "Plaza Suite" and "California Suite." Now, Neil Simon has written this new comic romp set at the Grosvenor Hotel, where the TV movie was filmed. Michael Richards has a bad back, Julia Louis-Dreyfus loses her husband at the airport, Kelsey Grammer reunites with his ex-wife (Patricia Clarkson) and merry widow Madeline Kahn meets "snorting Scotsman" Richard Mulligan. How suite it is (or so one can hope).

Tuesday

"Back From Madness: The Struggle for Sanity" / 10 p.m. HBO

Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, a filmmaker and psychiatrist, presents four case studies of patients dealing with mental illness in and outside the hospital. Todd is a 25-year-old homeless man diagnosed as manic depressive. Naomi, 23, is a student who had a nervous breakdown before graduation. Glen, 53, suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, and Eric, 27, opts for electroconvulsive therapy to ease his suicidal depression.

Friday

"Jon Stewart: Unleavened" / 9 p.m. HBO

The New Jersey native, whose career has included successful stops on the comedy-club circuit and at MTV, lands his first HBO solo special. Stewart, who also had a syndicated talk show, tries to make us laugh at the Coconut Grove Playhouse as part of an "HBO Miami Weekend," which begins at 7 p.m. with the live telecast of a boxing doubleheader.

****

"Homicide: Life on the Street" / 10 p.m. NBC

A slew of prime-time series resurface throughout the week, including this powerful police drama. When we last saw Baltimore homicide detective Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher), he had suffered a stroke in the midst of an intense interrogation. In the season premiere, Pembleton returns to the squad, but becomes frustrated when he is unable to participate in a hostage situation at a middle school.

Saturday

"Gloria Estefan: The Evolution Concert" / 10 p.m. HBO

What are the chances the Havana-born pop diva will encourage her legion of fans to "do that conga" or get on their feet? Quite good, since this HBO special capping the cable channel's Miami weekend will present Estefan's entire concert. It's the last stop for the energetic singer's U.S. tour, which will feature performances of new ("Reach") and old tunes ("Everlasting Love," "Turn the Beat Around").

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