ABC (Wednesdays, 9:30 P.M. ET)
In this summer replacement series, Ray (Wiseguy) Sharkey plays a wastrel who returns to Brooklyn to take over the family's corner grocery after his father dies.
Sharkey, as unlikely as anyone this side of Mickey Rourke to take on a sitcom, is surprisingly effective. His trademark Roman candle—effusive style doesn't tip over the show, because the producers wisely balanced him against another bomber, Anne DeSalvo. As his sister, DeSalvo can match Sharkey, stridency for stridency. Julie Bovasso and Leah Remini costar. While this is strictly formula sitcom humor, the show is loud and lively. During the summer, that's enough to earn it a look.
TNT (Mon., July 1, 8 P.M. ET)
A tough cowboy named Conn Conagher (Sam Elliott) is keeping an eve mi the widow (Katharine Ross) who runs a stagecoach rest stop.
It's not surprising that executive producer Elliott developed this property (he also cowrote it with his wife, Ross, and Jeffrey Meyer). As he proved in the similar 1987 cable-movie Western The Quick and the Dead (another L'Amour adaptation), no one looks better sitting in the saddle with four pounds of trail dust on him.
In the beginning, there's too much tears and poetry (Ross ties rhymes to tumbleweeds, like messages in bottles). And the florid score by J.A.C. Redford is obtrusive.
But the movie settles down into a satisfyingly rugged story with a wonderfully seasoned supporting cast, including Barry (Northern Exposure) Corbin, James (Major League) Gammon—a Richard Boone for the '90s—Dub (Bonnie and Clyde) Taylor and the late Ken Curtis, Marshal Dillon's sidekick Festus on Gunsmoke for more than a decade.
HBO (Tues., July 2, 10 P.M. ET)
This searing documentary from filmmaker Maryann DeLeo closely follows seven cases from the Rape Crisis Center in Memphis. One victim is five months pregnant, one is mentally handicapped, one is 72 years old. Only one of the attacks ends in prosecution.
DeLeo gains extraordinary access. Her cameras often arrive at the crime scene at the same time as the police. As a result, the victim's terror, confusion and sense of violation is all too clear. It makes for very powerful, very alarming television.
Big changes over at the Daytime Emmies. For The first time, the awards ceremony will be broadcast in prime time (Thurs., June 27, 9 P.M. ET), an overdue signal of respect for this abused part of the TV day. One thing hasn't changed: All My Children's Susan Lucci is nominated for the 12th consecutive year for Outstanding Lead Actress, an honor she has never won. With competition like Elizabeth (As the World Turns) Hubbard and Finola (General Hospital) Hughes, Lucci once again figures to be an also-ran.