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Highlights | TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT

Discovery sends Glenn off with a big 'Orbit'; Ponch and Jon ride again; ghosts and goblins in Hollywood

October 25, 1998|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"Masterpiece Theatre" / 9 p.m. KCET; concludes Monday

On the heels of Shakespeare ("King Lear") and Bronte ("Wuthering Heights") comes a four-hour period piece awash in avarice and forbidden love. Set in the English seaport of Bristol in 1788, "A Respectable Trade" tells of Frances Scott (Emma Fielding), a governess who marries a well-meaning businessman (Warren Clarke of "Dalziel and Pascoe") importing slaves to England, where they are educated by his bride. Enter Mehuru (Ariyon Bakere), an African counselor who, against his will, falls for Frances.

Monday

"Return to Orbit" / 8-11 p.m. Discovery Channel

As the countdown continues to Sen. John Glenn's historic journey aboard the Discovery shuttle, who better to present a troika of documentaries than the folks at Discovery Channel? "Orbit" serves as the banner for an evening featuring the premieres of "Godspeed, John Glenn" (8 p.m.), followed by "The Astronaut," about Andy Thomas' preparation for his upcoming Mir mission (9 p.m.), and "Inside the Space Shuttle" at 10 p.m. Meanwhile, CNN coverage of Thursday's launch begins with a Monday preview, while A&E carries a "Biography" of the senator at 5 and 9 p.m. Tuesday. And Wednesday at 8 p.m., PBS counters with "John Glenn, American Hero."

Tuesday

"CHiPS '99" / 8 and 10 p.m. TNT

Speeding cycles. Tight uniforms. Wild runs on California highways and biways. Yes, CHP officers Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) and Frank Poncherello (Erik Estrada) are back on the beat, slightly heavier and grayer perhaps, but still hell on wheels. In this new TV movie, Ponch returns from a 15-year retirement to reunite with Jon and break up a car-theft ring astride BMW bikes. Original cast members Robert Pine, Bruce Penhall and Brodie Greer are also in gear, begging the question, what happened to the team's cute cohort Brianne Leary?

Wednesday

"Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note" / 9 p.m. KCET

To friends and family, he was Lenny. For the rest of us, he was teacher, conductor and composer, a vital and complex man who quite remarkably was named director of the New York Symphony at the age of 27. He was the first American to conduct at La Scala, Milan's legendary opera house. He composed the music for Broadway's "On the Town" and "West Side Story." And he introduced young people to classical music when television was in its infancy. This two-hour biography fuses interviews and personal correspondence to survey Bernstein's inimitable life.

Friday

"Hollywood Ghost Stories" / 6 and 9 p.m. AMC

Short on chills and long on chatter, this hourlong Halloween-eve special hosted by William Shatner dredges up tales about restless spirits and haunted studios. The most interesting one involves actress Elke Sommer, who says a poltergeist once started a fire in her Beverly Hills home after numerous sightings of "a man in a white shirt." Other segments offer famous names (Jean Harlow, Thelma Todd, James Dean) and lots of Hollywood lore.

****

"Brimstone" / 8 p.m. Fox

The network threw everyone a sharp curve by unveiling its new supernatural series a week earlier than anticipated on Oct. 23--yes, last Friday--instead of Oct. 27. A sharper curve, and this could be troublesome for discerning parents, is that the dark drama about a dead New York homicide cop chasing the evil souls that escaped from Satan will now be carried in what was once a family-friendly hour. This week's episode finds Zeke Stone (Peter Horton) confronting the serial rapist who attacked his wife. Think of it as counterprogramming for ABC's TGIF fare--in a devilish kind of way.

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