Our one-word reaction to this TV movie about the discovery of the North Pole: brrrrr. Glory & Honor was shot in subzero temperatures in the Canadian Arctic, and we guarantee that you will shiver in sympathy for both the cast and the characters. Delroy Lindo (Clockers) stars as Matthew Henson, the loyal and resourceful assistant who accompanied the celebrated explorer Robert Peary (Henry Czerny from The Ice Storm) on his successful quest for the pole in 1908-1909, as well as on several prior Arctic expeditions. According to the film, Henson repeatedly pulled Peary's chestnuts out of the fire but was long denied due credit because of his race (black) and his boss's ego (huge).
Lindo ably conveys the strength and sensitivity of the unsung hero, whose rapport with the native Inuits is seen as vital to the success of Peary's undertaking. Czerny manages to give the stiff-necked explorer a hint of humanity, despite his habit of likening himself to God. But Glory & Honor has flaws, including too many scenes of the frostbitten principals shouting rhetoric into the whistling wind and a perfunctory side trip to New York City to cover Henson's courtship of Lucy Ross (Kim Staunton). Love is grand, but he left his heart with the sled dogs way up north.
CBS (Sun., March 1, 9 p.m. ET)
Without the star power of Jack Lemmon, this road picture might not make it out of the garage. Lemmon plays a 75-year-old Kansas widower who gets a letter from a onetime girlfriend (Betty Garrett) whom he hasn't seen in about half a century. Next, he has a chance encounter with a lively woman in her 20s (Sarah Paulson) who is driving cross-country to her home in Carmel, Calif. Lemmon's old flame lives in nearby Monterey, so he impulsively tags along. After Paulson's car is disabled in a mishap, the odd couple hitchhike west, while Lemmon's sons (Garwin Sanford and Tom Butler) and daughter-in-law (Kristin Griffith) worry and trade banalities back in their small town. ("You think you know somebody," Sanford says of his father. "Come to find out, you don't know him at all.") The journey is surprisingly uneventful; what follows is unsurprisingly bittersweet. Paulson gets some sad family news, while Lemmon and Garrett pick up pretty much where they left off. "You still take lots of sugar?" she asks, but we sense there's more than coffee brewing between them.
Praise Lemmon for giving the old man likability with a layer of crust. The problem is the mundane script and a touch of unreality. Something tells us we're not in Kansas (or California)—maybe because the film was shot in Vancouver.
CBS (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)
If you watched the Winter Olympics, you hardly could have avoided the clever promotional spots for The Closer, which had Tom Selleck testing legal, medical and police dramas before choosing this sitcom for his first starring role in series TV since the 1988 passing of Magnum, P.I. We hate rushing to judgment, but the Feb. 23 premiere raises concern that the promos may be funnier than the show. Though never less than engaging, Selleck seems miscast as Jack McLaren, a Denver advertising man known for his ability to close any deal with the perfect pitch. From his reputation, the character should be glib and more than a little intimidating, but Selleck's Jack has a gift of gab that's just average by ad-game standards, and a manner that may be described as casually egotistical. Agency accountant Erica Hewitt (Penelope Ann Miller) and copywriter Bruno Verma (David Krumholtz) refer in the premiere to Jack's supposed Rule No. 1: "Never let the client see you're human." We hope Jack himself never utters those words, because we doubt that Selleck could make us believe them—particularly now that we've seen Jack get teary in a hug-and-make-up scene with his college-age daughter Alex (Hedy Burress). Maybe the Closer should lend his motto to a guy who can really growl it: creative director Carl "Dobbs" Dobson, played by Edward Asner with his patented irascibility.
ABC (Tues., March 3, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. ET)
Dropped by NBC after one season, this family-merger sitcom bounces back on ABC with its modern attitude intact. The wife and hubby are not a bland Brady Bunch widow and widower but Mel Harris (thirtysomething) as a twice-divorced mother of two and Jere Burns (Dear John) as a once-divorced father of one. Harris's exes (Barry Jenner and Michael Milhoan) and Burns's former spouse (Christine Dun-ford)—all single—attach themselves to the family; in fact, Jenner and Dun-ford show signs of attaching themselves to each other in one of two episodes airing March 3 (regular slot is Tuesdays at 8:30 as of March 10). The situations can get awfully silly (beware those exploding jars of barbecue sauce on March 3), but Burns is so right as a fellow inclined to smart remarks and dumb decisions.
A TV CRIMEBUSTER NAILS NO. 500
JOHN WALSH, THE STERN-FACED HOST of America's Most Wanted, is in a rare jubilant mood as he recounts the FOX reality show's 500th capture (airing Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. ET). Amy Rica DeChant had been on the lam since 1996 for allegedly slaying her boyfriend, a Las Vegas bookie. AMW first dramatized her case last April, and on Jan. 28, a viewer's phone tip led police to a house near Fort Pierce, Fla., where DeChant was living under an alias. How had she eluded capture up to then? Walsh laughs. "She was hiding out in a nudist colony."
The naked truth is that Walsh, 52, AMW's anchor since its debut 10 years ago, loves his job but loathes the fugitives the show has helped collar, such as James Charles Stark, a rapist and murderer who hanged himself in prison in 1991. "Great," says Walsh.
His most satisfying moment? When 12-year-old Genny Krohn "ran up and gave me a hug." In 1992, two days after the Florida girl had been kidnapped, that week's AMW aired a short with Genny's photo—prompting her rattled abductor to let her go.
Sadly, Walsh doubts even AMW could have saved his own child, Adam, who was 6 when he was snatched in 1981. "I don't think Adam had a chance," says Walsh, whose son was slain just hours after his abduction. Walsh, wife Revé, 46, and their kids Meghan, 15, Callahan, 13, and Hayden, 3, now keep their address a secret and use high-tech security—the result of anonymous death threats. Still, says Walsh, "I get great satisfaction when we take somebody really dangerous off the streets."
- Macon Morehouse.
TNT (Sun., March 1, 8 p.m. ET)