CBS (Sun., Nov. 5, Wed., Nov. 8, 9 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

Joanne Whalley {Scarlett) isn't the first actress to portray Jackie O (Jaclyn Smith did it in 1981; Roma Downey in '91), and she won't be the last (Jill Hennessy gets her turn in February for NBC's Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot). But Whalley's Jackie may be as unglamorous as we're likely to get. Yes, there's the First Lady looking radiant in her pillbox hat and Oleg Cassini evening gowns. But there's also the wan, wrinkled Jackie, visibly ailing from the lymphoma that would claim her life in 1994, when this four-hour miniseries based on Donald Spoto's recent biography begins and ends. In between and in flashbacks, Senator Kennedy's wife sulks at home alone, while JFK (Tim Matheson, The West Wing's VP) is out womanizing; years later she tells off second husband Aristotle Onassis (Philip Baker Hall), who's been cheating on her with Maria Callas. Jackie's travails wear thin by then, and even Whalley looks exhausted in the role. The real treat is Matheson, who cannily captures Kennedy's roguish charisma. When the President dies, the life goes out of this meandering mini.

Bottom Line: Jack 1, Jackie 0

FOX (Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

Diehard X-philes will be bemused by the topsy-turvy premise of this sci-fi series' two-part season opener (Nov. 5 and 12). Formerly skeptical FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and her formerly incredulous boss Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) have both turned into True Believers as they search for the UFO that snatched Scully's soulfully paranoid partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) last spring. The role of resident scoffer will now be assumed by newcomer John Doggett, a by-the-book FBI agent stolidly played by Robert Patrick (the steely-eyed cyborg in Terminator 2: Judgment Day). But even true-blue fans, I suspect, will come away disappointed by the glacially paced plot and the tiresome reappearance of an old fiend, that shape-shifting, green-blooded, alien bounty hunter. And what of the missing Agent Mulder? He's glimpsed only intermittently—-a portent, perhaps, of Duchovny's decision to appear in just 11 episodes this season—and is heard to utter but a single line of dialogue, which goes something like this: "Scully! Sculllyyy!" Now that's an easy paycheck.

Bottom Line: Once hot show sliding toward X-tinction

Showtime (Sun., Nov. 5, 8 p.m. ET)

As the moderator of all three presidential debates this fall, PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer was criticized by some for letting the candidates bend—if not break—their own rules. In ironic contrast Mike Howley, the manipulative moderator of Lehrer's 1995 novel The Last Debate, literally steals the show. In this TV—movie adaptation, Howley (James Garner), a cynical pundit, persuades his three fellow debate panelists to ambush the 2000 Republican presidential nominee—no, not Bush, but a fictional conservative named Meredith. Seems that Howley has obtained evidence that Meredith has abused several women, including his wife. When the panelists fling those charges at him the candidate goes ballistic, his poll numbers plunge, and his interrogators turn into media superstars. So who was Howley's Deep Throat? Peter Gallagher plays a magazine reporter determined to find out. Gallagher's quest is as never-ending as his eyebrows, and the surprise payoff may not reward your patience. But Garner's sly, curmudgeonly turn as Howley should compensate.

Bottom Line: Stay the course

CBS (Mondays, 8:30 p.m. ET)

When doofus new dad Greg Warner (Anthony Clark) discovers his uptight wife, Kim (Jean Louisa Kelly), has been secretly breast-feeding their year-old son, Kim explains, "I'm doing it for the boobs....I like having big boobs. Big, milk-filled boobs." Welcome to the boob tube, everybody. Yes, Dear purports to be about two young couples raising their kids in the same L.A. household—Kim's laid-back sister Christine Hughes (Liza Snyder) and her slothful spouse, Jimmy (Mike O'Malley), live in the Warners' guest house with their two toddler sons-but it's really about four infantile adults cracking dumb about sex. In one episode Jimmy sneaks up on Christine and paws her posterior. Christine (without turning): "Kim, the mailman's here." In another, Greg and Kim innocently befriend an older couple who, it turns out, are into swinging. "I like to be spanked," the old lech tells Kim. Better it should be the network execs who said yes to this dreck.

Bottom Line: No, dear. Not tonight. I have a headache

ABC (Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

Last January, after Michael J. Fox announced he was leaving Spin City to devote more time to battling his Parkinson's disease, it was hard to imagine the show going on without him. Well, surprise, surprise. In his Oct. 18 debut Fox's successor, reformed Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen, brought his own understated rhythms and a mischievous glint to the part of new deputy mayor Charlie Crawford. "I don't remember our relationship," he tells a spurned ex-girlfriend. "I barely remember 1994." Yes, such ironic self-references could turn into a one-note joke. But Sheen's deadpan cool is the refreshing flip side to Fox's hyperkinetic heat, and his edgy chemistry with Heather Locklear has potential.

Bottom Line: Fresh spin, fast start

Fox (Mondays, 8 p.m. ET)

"All the [girl] juniors and seniors have removed their bras. The sophomores are doing so as we speak." That's just the sort of migraine-inducing bulletin that Steven Harper (Chi McBride), the harried principal of Boston's dysfunctional Winslow High School, doesn't need to hear. Harper, his bulldoggish vice principal Scott Guber (Anthony Heald) and their fractious faculty of idealists, incompetents and burnouts are in a constant state of crisis. One minute it's a teacher firing a gun in class to get his unruly students' attention; the next, it's football players refusing to shower with an allegedly gay teammate. Then there are those braless girls protesting the school's dress code. Is this Boston or Bedlam? Actually we're in David E. Kelley land. The creator of Ally McBeal and The Practice crams his new series with hot-button issues debated with gusto by an eccentric ensemble, none more so than Picket Fences' feisty Fyvush Finkel, impeccably cast here as the history teacher from hell.

Bottom Line: Classiness is in session

Terry Kelleher is on temporary leave

>Sunday, Nov. 5 THE GROWING PAINS MOVIE ABC (7 p.m. ET) Almost all grown-up, the Seaver kids reunite with their parents in this sequel to the 1985-92 sitcom.


Ray runs into a woman he dated—and, he thinks, mistreated—25 years ago.

Tuesday, Nov. 7 CHIPPENDALES MURDER USA (9 p.m. ET) There's a whole lot of bumpin' and grindin' in this TV movie set in the all-male strip club.

Wednesday, Nov. 8 SPIN CITY ABC (9:30 p.m. ET) Regis Philbin invites Caitlin (Heather Locklear) to be his Live guest host.

Thursday, Nov. 9 AMERICAN DREAM, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE A&E(10p.m.ET) Give me your huddled masses? This documentary charges that many immigrants are unfairly jailed.

Friday, Nov. 10 CSI CBS (9 p.m. ET)

The forensics team finds a murdered woman's skeleton in a basement—whose is it and whodunit?

Saturday, Nov. 11 AMERICAN BEAUTY HBO (9 p.m. ET) Kevin Spacey is superb as a spaced-out suburbanite in 1999's Best Picture.