NBC (Saturdays, 10 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

Usually I say "See ya later" to any TV character with supernatural powers, but I'm more tolerant of this fairly promising new drama series about a small group of New England residents who facilitate and interpret communications between live human beings and, for want of a better term, ghosts.

One big plus is the presence of Bill Cobbs as Elmer, an 83-year-old (not counting his previous lives) medium who's as weary as he is wise. And Julianne Nicholson is believably spooked as Marian, a college student who joins Elmer's spiritualist clique in the Feb. 5 pilot after some hair-raising encounters with a young woman who died in her dorm room. But the chief virtue of The Others is that it seems more concerned with touching us than scaring us. The second episode effectively conveys the intensity of a woman's grief after a car crash shatters her family. It's worth watching even after a psychic named Satori (Melissa Crider) makes the dubious claim that "70 percent of husbands and wives who lose their mate experience after-death communication." Who took that survey?

Bottom Line: Creepy but affecting

CBS (Sun., Feb. 6, 9 p.m. ET)

A mystery plot doesn't have to be constructed perfectly, or even plausibly, if the author makes good use of it to reveal character. The disappointing thing about this slow-paced Hallmark Hall of Fame drama, adapted from Ron Hansen's novel Atticus, is its failure to penetrate to the emotional core of the central relationship. We never feel the acute sense of loss and regret that spurs a Colorado rancher named Atticus Cody (James Co-burn) to search for the truth about the apparent suicide of his artist son Scott (Paul Kersey) in Mexico. Beyond mere curiosity, we have no stake in solving the puzzle.

Coburn, who won an Academy Award last year for playing the ogreish father in Affliction, fares well as a rather crusty yet sympathetic parent. He's clearly the main attraction. As Scott's sometime girlfriend, Lisa Zane should be enigmatic but seems merely indifferent. Though a more authentic Mexican atmosphere would have helped, the main problem here is the teleplay, which flattens the original story in an attempt to simplify it.

Bottom Line: Doesn't fit together

ABC (Mon., Feb. 7, 8 p.m. ET)

"Oh, Rhoda, are we in our twilight years?" says Mary (Mary Tyler Moore) to her best friend (Valerie Harper). It is a little late in the day for a TV movie to revive characters from the beloved Mary Tyler Moore Show of 1970-77. Mary, now a congressman's widow in New York City, returns to television news and feels some funny frustration at the channel-surfer mentality of her boss (Elon Gold). But Rhoda has been given a far-fetched past—divorce from a French philanderer followed by a "spiritual quest"—and a nearly laughless present as an aspiring photographer. She'd be better off reconciling with her regular-Joe hubby from the spinoff series Rhoda (1974-78). Mary and Rhoda each have a daughter in college, but those younger-generation types won't stay in our minds for two hours, much less the next 20-odd years.

Bottom Line: Can't measure up to the memories

Sunday, Feb. 6 MADAME BOVARY PBS (9 p.m. ET) Frances O'Connor (Mansfield Park) plays Flaubert's sexy heroine in a two-parter concluding Feb. 13.

Monday, Feb. 7 FREAKS AND GEEKS NBC (8 p.m. ET) Bad idea, girl. Lindsay's freak friends talk her into stealing her father's car.

Tuesday, Feb. 8 I DARE YOU! THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE UPN (8 p.m. ET) Talk about riding the rails. A stuntman jumps his motorcycle through two box-cars of a fast-moving train.

Wednesday, Feb. 9 BIOGRAPHY: GEORGE REEVES A&E (8 p.m. ET) A profile of TV's Superman focuses on his mysterious death in 1959.

Thursday, Feb. 10 CHICAGO HOPE CBS (9 p.m. ET) A terminal cancer patient takes Viagra, then dies while enjoying its benefits.

Friday, Feb. 11 PROVIDENCE NBC (8 p.m. ET) Robbie gets enmeshed in a feud between Heather and her seductive mom (guest star Victoria Principal).

Saturday, Feb. 12 MARC ANTHONY CONCERT HBO (10 p.m. ET) The pop star sings "I Need to Know" and his other hits at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

William Shatner

As a rocker, Star Trek icon William Shatner never hit warp speed. "I've failed miserably several times," says Shatner, who put out infamously awful covers of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" in 1968. "I did aspire to it until I found out I can't sing."

Sing, no. Spoof, definitely. Shatner, 68, pokes fun at himself by playing an aging rocker in 10 new VH1 Storytellers-inspired ads for Priceline.com. "It's a narrow line you walk between looking like a complete idiot and being funny," says Shatner, who croons in one spot, "If saving money is wrong, I don't want to be right."

The three-day shoot was "great fun" for Shatner, who has been shilling for the Web site, which offers discounts on airfares and hotels, since April 1998. The gig reportedly netted Shatner millions in stock options, although whether he's worth it, he'll never know: He hasn't seen the ads. "I can't watch myself," says Shatner. "It gives me great anxiety." Besides, he adds, "it's only a 30-second commercial and my reaction time has slowed down. By the time I change the station, it's over."

  • Contributors:
  • Michelle Caruso.