ABC (Wednesdays. 9 P.M. ET)
George Lucas takes his hugely popular Raiders of the Lost Ark hero and reduces him both in scope (by banishing him to TV) and in age (by placing him in a prequel).
The handsome but stuff series is framed as the remembrances of an old, infirm Jones (George Hall), who reflects on the globe-trotting adventures of his youth. Alternating episodes feature Indiana at age 9 (Corey Carrier) and at 16 (Sean Patrick Flanery) as he travels to faraway destinations and bumps into such famous 20th-century figures as Teddy Roosevelt. Pablo Picasso and Pancho Villa.
The Flanery segments, like this week's cute romance set in London, are better because the teenage Indy is more equipped for adventure and because Flanery is a more polished actor than Carrier.
Each episode tries to shoehorn in bold a history and an ethics lesson with the period dress and picturesque ports of call. The result, though visually rich, is like a fuddy-duddy theme-park ride,
CBS (Sun., March 15, 9 P.M. ET)
Patricia (thirtysomething) Wettig stars in this arresting dramatization of the true story of Nancy Ziegenmeyer, the Iowa woman whose 1990 decision to go public with her experience as a rape victim is credited with inspiring thousands of women to seek counseling or legal redress.
The movie presents an unusually realistic and disturbing depiction of rape and its impact. Because Wettig's character isn't cloaked in a veil of virtue but is presented as being somewhat promiscuous, her ordeal is more complex and provocative.
Wettig gives a spirited performance, and Stephen Lang is also effective as her repressed husband. They're aided by an excellent supporting cast that includes Eileen Brennan and Ellen Burstyn.
Fox (Mon., March 16, 8 P.M. ET)
This is some week for thirtysomething alums. Ken Olin, Patricia Wettig's real-life husband, directs this drama about the shame and secrets lurking beneath a suburban family's varnished facade.
When a Yale student (William McNamara) brings home his wealthy fiancée (Full House's Lori Loughlin) to meet his clan, it's as if she has stepped into a poster for the dysfunctional family. There's the imperious restaurateur dad (James B. Sikking), the too chipper mom (Bibi Besch), the alcoholic brother (In Living Color's Jim Carrey) and the attention-starved sister (Jayne Brook). Anyone up for a game of charades after dinner?
The script takes the afflictions of this family a few contrivances too far, which makes for a wobbly conclusion to this histrionic film. But Olin directs a wonderful cast with the same clarity and restraint he brought to The Broken Cord, the recent ABC movie about fetal-alcohol syndrome.
ABC (Mon., March 16, 9 P.M. ET)
Blair Brown plays a woman happily married to a successful lawyer and pro-football agent (Arliss Howard) until his admission of an affair draws her back into the sordid sexual lifestyle she thought she had left behind.
It's an unsettling film, daring in its kinkiness and in its scattered but sophisticated visual and narrative style. Brown and Howard distinguish themselves and are buoyed by a cast that includes Paul Guilfoyle, Louis Gimbalvo and Mare Winningham.
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LAST DECEMBER ERIC CLAPTON, THE Odin of rock guitar gods, toured Japan with George Harrison. But it's only now that Clapton is letting his guitar gently weep as he delivers a sit-down acoustic show for MTV Unplugged (Wed., March 11, 10 P.M. ET). In addition to "The Circus Left Town," a song about his young son, Conor, who died tragically last year, Clapton plays a sweet, rangy set that takes in something old (a revamped "Layla"), something new (the never recorded "Lonely Stranger"), something borrowed (Bo Diddley's "Before You Accuse Me"), all of it blue.
One Irish Rover (Tues., March 17, 9 P.M. ET) is a horse of a different color: green. To honor St. Patrick's Day, A&E presents a peripatetic Van Morrison. Among other settings, the Irish singer engages in a duel with Bob Dylan on an Athens hilltop, a blues jam with John Lee Hooker on a dock by a Louisiana bayou and a Belfast performance of "Raglan Road," with Irish flavoring added by the Chieftains. It's a beautiful musical memento.
Let's go right to the videotape, shall we?