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Highlights | TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT

ABC gets sexy with Cindy; CBS 'Awards' country; 'Inspectors' on Showtime; 'Radio with heart on NBC

September 20, 1998|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"The Simpsons" / 8 p.m. Fox

Up to now, this enduringly smart sitcom rated a mention as the longest-running animated series in TV history. Well, with this week's broadcast, it becomes the longest-running sitcom currently on the air, a title held at one time by the network's "Married ... With Children." In the amusing 10th-season premiere (where have all the years gone?), Homer tries to emulate inventor Thomas Edison, creating an electric hammer and a makeup gun for women ("You've got it set on whore," Marge says). Where Fox is concerned, one thinks "The Simpsons" has been its brightest idea.

****

"The Inspectors" / 8 p.m. Showtime

A mail bomb explodes in a suburban Baltimore home, leaving one man dead and his wife seriously injured. The victim's troubled son (Tobias Mehler) is suspected until evidence is uncovered that he was the intended target. And just when two U.S. Postal Inspectors (played by Louis Gossett Jr. and Jonathan Silverman) subsequently get the evidence needed to nab the real culprit, they must race to retrieve a second special delivery. The made-for-cable movie is based on files from the Postal Service.

****

"The Marriage Fool" / 9 p.m. CBS

In years past, CBS contended with NBC and ABC for viewers in search of a decent Sunday movie, theatrical or otherwise. As undisputed king of that hill, CBS kicks off another season of films, while ABC backs off with its odd coupling of "20/20" and "The Practice." In "Fool," Walter Matthau plays Frank, a widower whose eldest, commitment-phobic son (John Stamos) disapproves of Dad's new companion (Carol Burnett), an extrovert totally unlike Frank's first wife.

Tuesday

"Sex With Cindy Crawford" / 10 p.m. ABC

OK, guys, get your minds out of the gutter. This is a straightforward survey of sexuality and the country's obsession with it. Teens, the media, monogamy and chemistry are among the topics addressed by the supermodel, who also visits a town in Wisconsin, where she shares "intimate stories" at a barbecue with assorted citizens. The one-hour special includes findings on sexual behavior among Americans, which was compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Wednesday

"The 32nd Annual CMA Awards" / 8 p.m. CBS

Always a crowdpleaser with viewers, this three-hour telecast will be hosted for the seventh time by hitmaker Vince Gill, a winner of 17 Country Music Assn. statuettes, more than any other artist. This year's top nominee is George Strait, whose five nods give him a total of 47, surpassing Merle Haggard with 43. Scheduled performers at the Grand Ole Opry House include Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, who will sing "Where the Road Leads"; Alan Jackson ("I'll Go on Loving You"); Faith Hill ("This Kiss") and Shania Twain ("You're Still the One").

****

"NewsRadio" / 9:30 p.m. NBC

How are the writers of this astute, absurd sitcom going to deal with the recent homicide death of Phil Hartman, who played the wildly irascible newsman Bill McNeal on the series? In the fifth-season premiere, the WNYX staffers return from the funeral of their colleague who suffered a heart attack. A network spokeswoman describes the tone as "touching but funny, in 'NewsRadio' style." Happily, Khandi Alexanders rerpises her role as Bill's former anchor mate, Catherine. Next week's episode introduces Jon Lovitz as neurotic Max Louis, the station's new on-air personality.

Thursday

"Friends" / 8 p.m. NBC

The Peacock presents several resolutions to cliffhangers this week, but who can get excited about "Suddenly Susan" and "Caroline in the City"? The one we do care about concerns the duo of Ross (David Schwimmer) and Emily (Helen Baxendale), who were left at the altar in May when the chagrined groom made the colossal mistake of mentioning his ex-girlfriend Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) during the nuptials. In the fifth-season premiere, Ross deals with the fallout from that unforgivable foul-up.

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