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Highlights | TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT

This was their life (the Nelsons) on A&E; finding meaning in ship wreckage; meet some new Brits

June 21, 1998|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"Biography" / 5, 7, 9 and 11 p.m. A&E

If you watched the tube during the innocent '50s, odds are you grew up with "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet," the longest-running family comedy in TV annals. On screen, the happy, wholesome Nelsons led seemingly perfect lives. Off screen was a different story. "The Adventures of America's Favorite Family" is a two-hour installment recalling the real Ozzie, a tough taskmaster, as well as David and Ricky, the All-American sons who grappled in real life with their small-screen personas on the sitcom, which had a remarkable 14-year run on ABC from 1952 to 1966.

****

"Lost Ships" / 5 and 8 p.m. TLC

Mensun Bound prefers preservation over plundering. The director of Oxford University's Maritime Archaeological Unit serves as host for this three-part documentary exploring notorious shipwrecks. "I see a wreck not just as an accumulation of objects, but rather as a web of meaning," says Bound, who shares the colorful history of an ancient Roman treasure ship found off the coast of Tunisia, Admiral Horatio Nelson's Agamemnon and the Graf Spee, the pride of Nazi Germany.

Monday

Wimbledon Tennis / 6 a.m. HBO

Will defending champion Martina Hingis renew her rivalry with Venus Williams? Will men's champ Pete Sampras be at the top of his game? And will Michael Chang or Monica Seles make any racket in their respective quests to win a Grand Slam title? The answers are forthcoming from England as HBO presents 10 days of live and same-day coverage, including the semifinals, to be hosted by Jim Lampley. Dick Enberg fills that pivotal role for NBC, whose coverage begins Saturday and concludes July 5 with the men's final.

****

"Bob & Margaret" / 10:30 p.m. Comedy Central

You won't find any pint-sized potty mouths on this new animated comedy from the cable channel that unleashed the lowbrow antics of "South Park." Based on the Oscar-winning short "Bob's Birthday," this sublime import centers on the mundane lives of a middle-aged couple in London. In one characteristically low-key episode, we learn the paunchy, conventional Brits are not above deception as they lie about the value of items stolen from their home. Nothing groundbreaking here, but light and watchable in an otherwise arid summer.

Tuesday

"BIOrhythm" / 10:30 p.m.

Most nights, it's hard to turn a television on without finding a "Biography" on A&E, an "Intimate Portrait" on Lifetime or a "Storytellers" on VH1, shows in which words and images are interwoven to paint a compelling picture of well-known figures. The absence of words is what sets this new half-hour series apart from the pack. As MTV puts it, the music and images speak for themselves in narration-free bios of Tupac Shakur, Madonna, Steven Tyler, Queen Latifah and others.

Wednesday

"An Unexpected Life" / 9 p.m. USA

In this sequel to the formulaic 1996 TV movie "An Unexpected Family," viewers are reacquainted with Barbara Whitney (Stockard Channing), the fortyish, single career woman who ultimately gained custody of her 13-year-old nephew (Noah Fleiss) and 7-year-old niece (Chelsea Russo), the progeny of an irresponsible sister. The follow-up has Barbara leaving New York for small-town living with her partner Sam (Stephen Collins) and the kids. Shortly after the move, she gets pregnant. Now don't try and tell me that was unexpected.

Friday

"Stargate SG-1" / 10 p.m. Showtime

With the networks stuck in rerun mode, Showtime hopes to woo a wider circle of viewers with the second-season premiere of this middling science-fiction series. Richard Dean Anderson returns as Jack O'Neill, the Air Force colonel who explores uncharted regions of the universe via a high-tech portal. As a way of bringing everyone up to speed, Showtime precedes its new episode with the two-part cliffhanger from last season, which begins at 8 p.m.

Saturday

"When Trumpets Fade" / 9 p.m. HBO

Ron Eldard, last seen in the NBC sitcom "Men Behaving Badly," stars in this cable drama about an infamous World War II confrontation. Set in late 1944 as American troops were counting on home cooking for Christmas, the story revolves around Pvt. Manning (Eldard) and the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, a three-month conflict with no strategic purpose. Some 24,000 soldiers died in the dark, dank territory along the Belgian-German border, a locale nicknamed "The Death Factory" by the men who had the misfortune of fighting there.

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