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Highlights | TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT

Brrrr: the Cold War and a chilly coma; the royal sites of England; 'Felicity' makes her bow

September 27, 1998|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunday

"Cold War" / 5 p.m. CNN

An expansive series consisting of 24 one-hour episodes traces the military and ideological conflict between the United States and Soviet Union. It's a story made possible by the Freedom of Information Act and the recent opening of Soviet archives, which provide the observations of more than 500 eyewitnesses--from statesmen to average citizens. Much of the footage, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, recalls the actions of world leaders as well as the significance of Potsdam, Checkpoint Charlie and the fundamentals of international engagement.

****

"Forever Love" / 9 p.m. CBS

Think of her as Reba Van Wrinkle. In this new TV movie "suggested" by a true story, singer Reba McEntire plays a woman who begins life anew after awakening from a 20-year coma. McEntire's revitalized Lizzy must adjust to a radically different world (well, duh) in which her husband (Tim Matheson) and daughter (Heather Stephens) have managed with help from a close friend (Bess Armstrong). But how does Lizzy fit in now that this trio has formed a family of their own after two decades without her?

****

"Crown & Country" / 9 p.m. KCET

Prince Edward Windsor is host, narrator, writer and executive producer of this two-hour visit to historical English sites. "The series is not a history lesson," says Windsor, who calls it "an excuse to tell some very good stories, which is, after all, what history is." Among the tales to be told involve Cambridge University (which Windsor attended); Portsmouth (the oldest naval base in the world); and Sandringham, the royal family's traditional Christmas retreat. Pip, pip, cheerio!

****

"The Practice" / 10 p.m. ABC

With all the positive press lavished on his other legal eagle show "Ally McBeal," creator David E. Kelley has expressed wishes that his ABC series about a struggling law firm could use more of the same attention. Well, he certainly got the right kind when it was named best drama at the Emmy Awards. Since moving from Monday to Sunday, ratings for "The Practice" have not been perfect. In truth, they have not been good at all. That could spell trouble in the long run because ABC has no other place to put its first-rate drama. In the season premiere, receptionist Rebecca (LisaGay Hamilton) receives a letter that will change her life (and career).

Monday

"The Metropolitan Opera Presents" / 8 p.m. KCET

If our hair was shorn, our physical strength (meager as that may be for some) would still exist. That was not the case for the legendary hero of "Samson et Dalila," a three-act opus conducted by James Levine. Placido Domingo and Olga Borodina have the title roles in the work by Camille Saint-Saens, whose tragic story of love and betrayal takes place in the court of a Philistine high priest (Sergei Leiferkus). Something to think about on that next visit to your stylist, fellas.

Tuesday

"Felicity" / 9 p.m. WB

Strong buzz can be a two-edged sword in the TV industry. Thus far, this sensitive, beautifully textured new drama has earned the most plaudits among critics who have dutifully spread the word of its quality. But upon seeing this avalanche of glowing notices from the media, will Joe and Jill Nielsen be underwhelmed when the show is finally unveiled this week? Keri Russell gives an appealing performance as a high school graduate whose fleeting meeting with a fellow graduate turns her world topsy-turvy. As in, so long Stanford, hello New York!

Wednesday

"The Secret Lives of Men" / 9:30 p.m. ABC

We can't vouch for the juiciness of all the "secrets" in this new comedy from Susan Harris ("Soap," "The Golden Girls"), but we do know the show's trio of thirtysomething males can certainly talk you to death. And what they gab about in the pilot is neither funny nor memorable. Peter Gallagher, Bradley Whitford and Mitch Rouse star as the divorced fellas grousing about women and one being such a lonely number. If these guys do not get funnier fast, they are sure to get bumped by the summer hit "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" In which case, the crew will be looking for the unemployment line.

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