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Highlights | TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT

Mining the 'Gold Coast' on Showtime; NBC welcomes 'Jenny' and clones film; 'Into' a new 'Mystery!'

September 28, 1997|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"Married to a Stranger" / 7 p.m. Family Channel

If this cable movie wasn't inspired by a true story, we might not believe it for a moment. Jaclyn Smith plays Meagan, a woman with amnesia who has regressed to the age of 16 after suffering a head injury. The worst part is, she has no memory of life with her husband (Robert Clohessy) and daughter (Katharine Isobel). And the situation is complicated by Meagan's relationship with a psychiatrist (Kim Coates) who has more than a professional interest in her, uh, affairs.

****

"Cousteau: Sanctuaries for Life" / 7 p.m. TBS

One of the last programs made before his death, this documentary finds Jacques Cousteau investigating the overpopulation of various species in South Africa. During the hour, we learn about endangered animals whose numbers have grown too rapidly for the limited space in that country's national parks. Rather than kill them, park officials trap and transfer the animals to other venues, where they are auctioned to zoos around the world.

****

"Gold Coast" / 8 p.m. Showtime

A Mafia widow (Marg Helgenberger), a thief (David Caruso) who pulled a job for her late husband and a ruthless cowboy (Jeff Kober) hungry for a $15-million payoff are the pivotal players in this able adaptation of Elmore Leonard's yarn. Stylishly directed by actor Peter Weller, the crime drama pairs Helgenberger and Caruso, whose character works with porpoises at Marineland, where he "gets 'em to do everything but mate in mid-air."

****

"Jenny" / 8:30 p.m. NBC

You've seen her draped across the pages of Playboy (or not). You've heard her snort on "Singled Out." You've watched her yack with rock stars and beat up puppets on "The Jenny McCarthy Show." Now the ultra-exposed Ms. McCarthy graduates to big-time network TV as the star of her own sitcom. (C'mon, you knew this day would come.) Here, she plays a gal from Utica, N.Y., who moves into the elaborate Hollywood home once owned by late father, a hambone actor (nicely played by George Hamilton in flashbacks) she hardly knew.

****

"Get to the Heart: The Barbara Mandrell Story" / 9 p.m. CBS

This biopic about the popular entertainer picks up steam in the second half after she and her two children are involved in the car wreck that nearly claimed her life. At that point, Mandrell (played by Maureen McCormick) turns surly and overly demanding, attempting to shut out both fans and family alike. In the early going, however, this made-for-TV movie is standard-issue stuff about the ascension to stardom and the price one pays for it.

****

"Cloned" / 9 p.m. NBC

Nothing like a little understatement to grab our interest. NBC describes cloning, the subject of this TV movie, as "the most controversial issue facing the 21st century." Well, in that case, we just can't ignore it! Elizabeth Perkins stars as a woman who discovers her dead 8-year-old son has been duplicated by a geneticist (Alan Rosenberg), but her investigation jeopardizes the scientist's remarkable breakthrough. Bradley Whitford co-stars as Perkins' husband.

Wednesday

"Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel" / 9 p.m. CBS

Prime-time newsmagazines prospered during the summer, but is there room this fall for yet another? That's the question looming over the debut of this hour hosted by the longtime NBC journalist. Executive producer Michael Rubin says the program "is built around Bryant's strengths" as an interviewer and that it "will mix in-depth reporting with provocative interviews." Bernard Goldberg, Alison Stewart, Peter Van Sant, Derek McGinty and Maggie Cooper are the regular correspondents.

Thursday

"Mystery!" / 9 p.m. KCET

Where there is crime, there must be punishment. And where there are misdeeds, there must be this solid PBS series. The 18th season opens with "Into the Blue," a two-hour thriller based on Robert Goddard's book dealing with deceit and murder. John Thaw, the erstwhile Inspector Morse, plays a groundskeeper-turned-sleuth probing the disappearance of a woman who spent the night with him.

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