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TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : ABC's '20,000 Leagues' hits the deck; Fox takes the 'Quicksilver Highway'; feuding mogul flick on HBO



"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" / 9 p.m. ABC; concludes Monday

Seven weeks ago, CBS aired a lackluster version of the venerable Jules Verne adventure about the mighty Nautilus. Weighing in at twice the length, this bloated four-hour rendering of the 1870 novel left us with another sinking feeling. The chatty first half introduces young oceanographer Pierre Arronax (Patrick Dempsey), who ends up aboard the man-made sub commanded by the enigmatic Captain Nemo (Michael Caine). Alas, the best--an action sequence in which a giant octopus attacks a diving bell--is saved for last.


"Quicksilver Highway" / 8 p.m. Fox

Fright titans Stephen King and Clive Barker supply two short stories fashioned to send a shiver up your spine in this TV movie. Christopher Lloyd is the linchpin as Aaron Quicksilver, an odd fellow who tells a stranded bride (Missy Crider) a scary story (based on King's "Chattery Teeth") about a traveling salesman (Raphael Sbarge) and a set of false teeth. Moving on to a carnival, Quicksilver relates a tale (based on Barker's "The Body Politic") about a plastic surgeon (Matt Frewer) who loses control of his hands.


"Coach" / 8 p.m. ABC

One of five long-running series to exit prime time during the May sweeps, this sturdy sitcom calls its final play with a one-hour episode. Created by Barry Kemp ("Newhart"), the comedy about ornery football coach Hayden Fox (Craig T. Nelson) premiered as a midseason entry in early 1989, subsequently getting kicked around the schedule in a staggering number of 15 time slots but generally managing to score solid ratings wherever it went. In the sentimental finale, Hayden and Christine (Shelley Fabares) reminisce about the past eight years and make a life-altering decision.


"The Drew Carey Show" / "Ellen" / 9 and 9:30 p.m. ABC

"Coach" should provide a good lead-in for the two season finales that follow. In "Drew," which started the season on a high, hilarious note with an elaborately choreographed song-and-dance number set to "Five O'Clock World," we get more shenanigans as the gang attends a midnight showing of "Rocky Horror Picture Show," where they meet Mimi and her friends, resulting in a wild "dance-off." And in "Ellen," the now openly gay lead character breaks the news to her boss (Bruce Campbell), who does not take it well.


"KTLA's 50 Golden Years" / 8 p.m. KTLA

The first commercial TV station in Los Angeles belatedly celebrates its 50th anniversary--it went on the air Jan. 22, 1947--with a two-hour retrospective hosted by newscasters Stan Chambers, Hal Fishman and Barbara Beck. Highlighted by archival footage, the nostalgic special also features interviews with longtime viewers who recount their favorite memories of KTLA moments. Tom Snyder, David Letterman, Mike Wallace, Johnnie Cochran and Soupy Sales appear in vintage clips, while David Nelson ("Ozzie and Harriet") and Phil Hartman ("NewsRadio") offer personal recollections.


NBC Programs / 8-11 p.m. NBC

Prime-time network ratings are lower than ever, but Thursday continues to be the most popular night of the week for television's top-rated network. That being said, prepare to be inundated with countless TV and radio spots for "Must See Finale Night," which offers the season's last original episodes of "Friends," "Seinfeld" (with guest star Raquel Welch) and "ER." Meanwhile, the Sharon Lawrence sitcom "Fired Up" ends its trial run with two episodes airing at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. (See Best Bets for details.)


"Weapons of Mass Distraction" / 8 p.m. HBO

In this cable movie written by Larry Gelbart (an Emmy winner for the tart, smart "Barbarians at the Gate"), the antagonists are feuding moguls determined to purchase the same pro football team, each using his global media empire to ruin the other. Gabriel Byrne plays Lionel Powers and Ben Kingsley is Julian Messenger, two men with a bottom-line mentality whose resemblance to real-life rivals Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch, according to Gelbart, is coincidental.

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