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Highlights | TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT

All dogs go to A&E; and now 'Barbie Nation,' the documentary; the bedside doctor who treats AIDS

July 12, 1998|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"Big Dogs, Little Dogs" / 5 and 9 p.m. A&E

A&E barks up the right tree with a two-hour report on canines of all shapes, sizes and temperaments. One of the segments looks at the big-business ventures surrounding these tail-wagging people pleasers, namely toys, gourmet health food, pet sitting and state-of-the-art medical facilities. We also meet furry, four-legged friends who make the rounds at a nursing home and assist an epileptic girl.

****

"My Own Country" / 9 p.m. Showtime

"I love bedside medicine," says Dr. Abraham Verghese (Naveen Andrews), an Ethiopian-born specialist in infectious diseases who was surrounded by suffering and death while treating AIDS patients in rural Tennessee during the mid-1980s. The made-for-cable movie, directed by Mira Nair ("Mississippi Masala"), is based on a book by Verghese, whose selflessness placed a strain on his marriage. Though the film can be slow and slightly sentimental, its strongest assets are convincing characterizations by Glenne Headly, Marisa Tomei and Hal Holbrook.

Tuesday

"P.O.V." / 10 p.m. KCET

She has been the butt of jokes, the target of feminists and a lifelong obsession for collectors. In "Barbie Nation: An Unauthorized Tour," investigative reporter-turned-filmmaker Susan Stern covers the history and fantasy of the world's most famous doll. Mattel has made billions with the creation, but there's more to the story than mere money for Stern, who serves as writer, producer and director in this, her first documentary.

Wednesday

"The Living Edens" / 8-11 p.m. KCET

Now this is "Living." KCET devotes an evening to the nature documentaries venturing into pristine locales around the world. "Bhutan: The Last Shangri-La" visits a small Buddhist kingdom brimming with misty forests, mountain streams and peaks rising to 25,000 feet. "Palau: Paradise of the Pacific" observes the abundance of colorful marine life to the east of India and Indonesia, including an undersea city created by coral reefs. Rounding out the trio of hourlong shows is a repeat titled "Denali: Alaska's Great Wilderness."

Friday

"Family Matters" / 9 p.m. CBS

Alas, we won't have Steve Urkel to kick around anymore. Everyone's favorite nerd finally fell out of favor with viewers who loyally tuned in for eight seasons on ABC, then turned away when the Winslows moved to CBS, which paid big bucks to take the sitcom from its rival. ABC had the last laugh, however, as Nielsens nose-dived for the once-popular comedy, which eventually was yanked during the pivotal May sweeps. In the fanfare-less series finale, the "Did I do that?" kid ends up on the space shuttle. What a way to go ...

****

"Evening at Pops" / 9 p.m. KCET

Summer brings ballgames, barbecues and the busy baton of Keith Lockhart, who returns as Boston Pops conductor for a new season of this venerable PBS series. The 29th season features 10 programs (the first five are new) kicked off with a song-and-dance turn by "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker, who sings a medley of numbers accompanied by the Krokodiloes, an all-male a cappella group from Harvard. The opener also offers "Mavis in Las Vegas," a musical and video tour of Sin City hosted by composer Peter Maxwell Davies.

Saturday

Goodwill Games / 5:05 p.m. TBS

Michelle Kwan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Dan O'Brien and Michael Johnson are among the 1,500 athletes from more than 60 countries invading New York for this world-class competition. Most of the sports covered between July 19 and Aug. 2 are Olympic events--swimming, basketball, boxing, wrestling, diving, gymnastics, figure skating and the triathlon--with the principals vying for gold medals and a share of $5 million in prize money. The festivities begin with an opening celebration showcasing performances by Hootie and the Blowfish, Jewel and Brandy.

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