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Highlights | TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT

A 'Tempting' version of L.A.; Wilkie's 'Woman'; when 'Push' comes to love; the birth of Christ

April 05, 1998|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"From the Earth to the Moon" / 8 p.m. HBO

"Apollo 13" star Tom Hanks has his head in the heavens again as executive producer, writer, director and actor in this handsomely mounted 12-part miniseries about the race to space. Produced with the cooperation of NASA, this $65-million project features 100 major roles, including Brett Cullen and Tony Goldwyn as astronauts Dave Scott and Neil Armstrong. It also serves as a compelling history lesson (airing in two-hour chunks through May 10) on the Apollo missions. In Part 1, NASA responds to the challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

****

"The Patron Saint of Liars" / 9 p.m. CBS

Dana Delany stars in this TV movie as Rose Cleardon, a pregnant woman who leaves her husband, starting life anew at a home for unwed mothers. There, she is taken under the wing of an older nun (Sada Thompson) and learns about the legend of a woman (Ellen Burstyn) who will have an impact on her future. True happiness, however, eludes Rose until she finally confronts her personal demons and makes amends with loved ones.

****

"Tempting Fate" / 9 p.m. ABC

Imagine a parallel universe sans smog, crime or traffic in which everyone in Los Angeles is courteous and cars are community property. And, oh yeah, Elvis is still alive! That's the seemingly idyllic world entered in this TV movie by surgeon Ben Creed (Tate Donovan) and his oversized friend (Abraham Benrubi), who soon discover that physical imperfection or civil disobedience lead to execution in a vicious bat-wielding exercise called "The Game."

****

"Masterpiece Theatre" / 9 p.m. KCET

Who is "The Woman in White"? Is she a ghost, madwoman or harbinger of doom? Tara Fitzgerald ("Sirens," "Brassed Off") portrays Marian, the heroine of this Victorian-era thriller revolving around an elusive apparition (Susan Vidler) haunting a country estate. The cast includes Justine Waddell as Marian's sister and Ian Richardson ("The House of Cards") as Mr. Fairlie, a hypochondriac he previously played in a 1985 "Mystery!" adaptation of the novel by Wilkie Collins.

Monday

"Push" / 8 p.m. ABC

With Fox's "Melrose Place" on hiatus until summer, ABC attempts to fill the sudsy void with this steamy soap about Olympic hopefuls. Expect more brawn than brains from this show set at a fictional California university where each of the aspirants is young, toned, tanned and altogether gorgeous. In the opener, the new gymnastics coach (Adam Trese) arrives on campus to discover his assistant (Jamie Pressly) is a former flame.

****

"Getting Personal" / 8:30 p.m. Fox

Just when you hoped the string of uninspired midseason shows about threesomes was at an end, along comes this coarse comedy about a trio in the workplace. Duane Martin and Jon Cryer are colleagues at a commercial company, where they work for a headstrong boss (Vivica A. Fox) who draws a line between personal and professional lives. The opener has a funny line or two about "The Jeffersons," but there's also silly stuff about condoms and diaphragms. Personal indeed!

****

"Frontline" / 9 p.m. KCET; concludes Tuesday

Departing from its usual topical themes, this investigative series sets out to chronicle the rise of Christianity. "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians," a two-part, four-hour documentary, challenges conventional notions about the subject by featuring interviews with New Testament scholars as well as controversial historical evidence. Part 1 examines a new portrait of where Jesus was born, how he lived and who he was; Part 2 studies the period following his death.

****

"Oklahoma City: A Survivor's Story"/ 9 p.m. Lifetime

This docudrama marks the third anniversary of the devastating blast that leveled the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. "Picket Fences" Emmy winner Kathy Baker plays Priscilla Salyers, a U.S. Customs employee who survived the ordeal after being buried under concrete and rubble. Though she physically recovered, it was the emotional strain that took a toll on Salyers, who eventually testified against the culprit, Timothy McVeigh.

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