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Highlights

TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : That wacky Fox couple, 'Ned and Stacey,' return; CBS film raises disaster of 'Titanic'; ABC's 'Hope'

November 17, 1996

Sunday

"Animal ER" / 6 and 10 p.m. TBS

A frisky Labrador swallows a battery. A puppy drinks half a cup of vodka, enough to induce a coma. And the owners of a German shepherd grapple with the momentous decision of whether to put down their pet, who has suffered seizures for several days. These are a few of the four-legged patients taken to a veterinary hospital in Pennsylvania that treats more than 20,000 dogs and cats each year. And all without help from George Clooney.

****

"Ned and Stacey" / 8:30 p.m. Fox

When last seen, the conniving Ned (Thomas Haden Church) had kissed Stacey (Debra Messing) and thrown her out of his posh Manhattan apartment, ending their marriage of convenience. As the sitcom starts its second season in a new slot following "The Simpsons," Stacey moves in with a boyfriend. And soon Stacey's tart sister Amanda (Nadia Dajani) will open a muffin shop with Ned as a silent partner. Fat chance!

****

"Titanic" / 9 p.m. CBS. Concludes Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Think Titanic, think disaster. The enormous ocean liner, hailed as the greatest engineering feat of its era, struck an iceberg and sank on the night of April 14, 1912, during its maiden voyage from England to New York. In this elaborate two-part movie, George C. Scott stars as Edward J. Smith, the captain on his final assignment whose passengers include a gossip (Eva Marie Saint) and the "unsinkable" Molly Brown (Marilu Henner).

****

"For Hope" / 9 p.m. ABC

As the compassionate Vietnam-era nurse Colleen McMurphy in "China Beach," Dana Delany conveyed a warm bedside manner with the wounded. Here, she is Hope, the sympathetic protagonist in need of medical care as a vibrant teacher felled by scleroderma, a degenerative disease that results in a hardening of the skin. The TV movie is directed by "America's Funniest Home Videos" host Bob Saget, whose real-life sister died of the illness in 1994.

Monday

"What Kind of Mother Are You?" / 9 p.m. NBC

Mel Harris, who has hit her stride as a comic actress on the first-year sitcom "Something So Right," returns to the angst-ridden drama she nailed right-on in "thirtysomething." Inspired by actual events, this TV movie centers on Laura Hyler (Harris), a woman blamed for her alcoholic father's suicide by a rebellious daughter (Nicholle Tom of "The Nanny"). Laura's plan to teach her offspring a lesson backfires when authorities refuse to release the teen after a night in jail, leading to a showdown with the juvenile justice system.

Thursday

"Smoke Alarm: The Unfiltered Truth About Cigarettes" / 7 p.m. HBO

Don't expect the R.J. Reynolds Co. to sponsor this Consumer Reports special about aggressive marketing campaigns--think Joe Camel--targeted at teens by the tobacco industry. Companies put big money behind ads designed to attract young people as replacements for older smokers who either die or quit. Using a mix of animated and live-action segments, this half-hour show plays up the downside of tobacco without any ifs, ands or butts.

Saturday

"Bob Hope ... Laughing With the Presidents" / 8 p.m. NBC

Be it the front lines of Vietnam or a soundstage in Burbank, nonagenarian Bob ("I'm a free agent") Hope has always poked good-natured fun at the foibles of America's chief executives. And, remarkably, he has done it solely on NBC airwaves since 1935. The legendary entertainer ends his unparalleled 61-year association with the No. 1 network on this special (his 285th), featuring funny clips as well as anecdotes from the Clintons, Bushes, Fords and Eisenhowers. Naturally, we are thankful for the memories.

****

"Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault" / 8 p.m. HBO

He plucked quarters off backboards, sank spectacular dunks and made moves that could freeze a defender. And yet he never reached the hardwood court of Madison Square Garden or any other big-time arena. Instead, a wayward life as a junkie landed him on the benches of Rikers. Don Cheadle, who scored with critics as the menacing Mouse opposite Denzel Washington in "Devil in a Blue Dress," plays the title role in this fact-based film based on the true story of the gifted basketball player from Harlem. "ER's" Eriq La Salle directs.

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