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- May 13, 2002
- Vol. 57
- No. 18
Picks and Pans Main: Tube
Talking With...Mary Tyler Moore
Show of the week
Some might say this six-hour miniseries—or "epic megaseries" as the network grandly bills it—is pretty slow in telling its tale of a lost island where humans and dinosaurs coexist. The novelty of watching flesh-and-blood performers interact with computer-generated creatures or animatronic puppets eventually wears off. But compared with ABC's last three-parter, the interminable Rose Red, the new Dinotopia positively flies by.
The lavish fantasy-adventure, adapted from two illustrated books by James Gurney, is old-fashioned family viewing—meaning kids should like it and adults can tolerate it. When teenage half brothers David (Wentworth Miller from Popular) and Karl (Tyron Leitso) wash up on Dinotopia after a plane crash that apparently has killed their father (Stuart Wilson), they both fall for the lord mayor's daughter Marion (Katie Carr). The love triangle, however, is refreshingly tame. The important questions are: Can David conquer his acrophobia and learn to fly a pterosaur with the Skybax corps? Will Karl accept the island's altruistic code, resist being led astray by local scoundrel Cyrus (David Thewlis) and carry out the task of raising an adorable baby chasmosaurus?
Grown-ups may see allegorical significance in Dinotopia's energy crisis, but it's more fun focusing on Zippo (amusingly voiced by Lee Evans), a scholarly stenonychosaurus who never shuts up.
Bottom Line: Motion slickness
Syndicated (weekdays; check local listings)
Promising to look at women's interests through male eyes—in other words, The View with guys—this fluffy talk show premiered last fall with cohosts Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce, Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell) and plastic surgeon Jan Adams. Dr. Adams, who had seemed less than comfortable in his role, left in December, and his spot went unfilled till actor Dorian Gregory (Charmed) joined the team last month. In his first week Gregory announced his affability by laughing loudly and often. Bonaduce, Clark and Lopez remained impish, commonsensical and cute, respectively. But the show lacks The View's topicality, and it's stuffed with plugs for products and Web sites.
Bottom Line: Halfway diverting
TLC (Sat.-Mon., May 11-13, 10 p.m. ET)
Though it sometimes seems like a cross between Candid Camera and Kids Say the Darndest Things, this entertaining if repetitious three-parter (narrated by Kelly Ripa) imparts plenty of solid information on the ways children develop a sense of themselves and society. A Child's World shows how kids learn to think abstractly, tell white lies to spare others' feelings, deal with situations where rules conflict, and see death as a fact of life. For a laugh, you also can spy on a 3-year-old trying to resist sampling a chocolate cake.
Bottom Line: Lively learning experience
PBS (Mon., May 13, 9 p.m. ED)
"We don't put our feelings on display," says Eve Ker (Juliet Stevenson), wife of an Australian sheep rancher and mother of three, as she bundles her two sons off to boarding school early in this Masterpiece Theatre drama. As the story progresses and tragedy batters the Ker family, we learn the cost of repressed emotion.
The Road from Coorain is based on the 1989 memoir by Eve's daughter, historian Jill Ker Conway, who went on to a distinguished academic career in the United States. (A former president of Smith College, she's now a visiting professor at MIT.) Though the script gives passing attention to Jill's intellectual growth and evolving attitude toward her homeland, it concentrates on her difficult relationship with her mother, who manages to withstand the drowning death—and possible suicide—of her husband, Bill (Richard Roxburgh), but sinks into bitter depression after her older son is killed in an auto accident. Stevenson's performance is an indelible portrait of a proudly stoical woman who eventually breaks because of her refusal to bend.
Strangely, the character of Jill seems more credible as an 11-year-old in the Outback (played by Alex Tomasetti) than as an adult at the University of Sydney (Katherine Slattery). The film's one serious weakness is its depiction of the love affair between Jill and Alec Merton (Tim Guinee), an American entrepreneur burdened with some bad dialogue. Alec's pet metaphor is that the Ker family goes through life garbed in "emotional wet-weather gear." Really, we can grasp that theme without his help.
Bottom Line: Road worth taking, despite a bump or two
The Money and the Power
A&E (Mon., May 13, 9 p.m. ET)
If you watch CSI you may think you know where the bodies are buried in Las Vegas. But this muckraking documentary aims to get at the root of all evil in Sin City.
Based on the book The Money and the Power by Sally Denton and Roger Morris, the two-hour film depicts Las Vegas as America's "shadow capital," unofficial headquarters for a dark alliance of gamblers, gangsters and government. The material on "matinee-idol mobster" Bugsy Siegel and alleged Mafia involvement in John F. Kennedy's murder seems like old news, but the program does well to revive the memory of racket-busting Sen. Estes Kefauver and sheds needed light on the lucrative relationship between crime lords and respectable bankers.
The talking heads include journalists, professors and a wild card: John Savage, an octogenarian ex-pit boss who knows how to play it foxy. "Them are things you don't divulge," he says about Mob skimming of casino cash. Then, of course, he spills a few beans.
Bottom Line: One-sided but mostly on the money
>Sunday, May 12 LIVE FROM THE RED CARPET E! (10 p.m.ET) Samuel L. Jackson and Ewan McGregor attend the premiere of Stars Wars: Episode II—and you get to gawk at them.
Monday, May 13 MUSICIANS Bravo (10 p.m. ET) Wyclef Jean chats about the Fugees and performs his new single, "PJs."
Tuesday, May 14 OLIVER'S TWIST Food Network (10 p.m. ET) Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef) cooks up a brand-new series.
Wednesday, May 15 BERNIE MAC SHOW FOX (9 p.m. ET) Bernie visits his sweet home Chicago in the one-hour season ender.
Thursday, May 16 SEASON FINALES NBC (8-11p.m.) Friends (Rachel gives birth), Will & Grace (Cher guest-stars) and ER go out with a bang.
Friday, May 17 DAYTIME EMMYS CBS (9p.m.ET) Mary J. Blige is a performer; Bob Barker's a presenter. What a combo.
Saturday, May 18 HOW TO LIVE LIKE A CELEBRITY PET MTV (2 p.m. ET) Ananda Lewis and Molly Sims pamper their pooches in a half-hour special.
>The last time Mary Tyler Moore teamed up with an old castmate, to shoot the 2000 ABC movie Mary and Rhoda, she wound up breaking her wrist on the set. Filming a scene in Manhattan, "I did a complete belly flop on a sidewalk," she recalls. "It was painful." There were no mishaps this time around, as she reminisced with Valerie Harper, Ed Asner, Cloris Leach-man, Gavin MacLeod and Betty White for CBS's May 13 The Mary Tyler Moore Reunion. "We were well-contained inside a studio," says Moore with a laugh. Harder to contain has been the success of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which originally aired from 1970-77 and has found new fans in reruns airing on TV Land. "It's amazing. There are 9-and 10-year-olds who recognize me and want my autograph," says Moore, 65. Now living in Millbrook, N.Y., with her husband, cardiologist Robert Levine, 47, the actress admits she occasionally catches Mary reruns and finds she has forgotten the plot. "I say to myself, 'I wonder how they're going to get out of this one?' " And while she calls meeting up with her old costars for the special "great fun," she says it's also bittersweet since Ted Knight died of cancer in 1986. "He was such a good guy," says Moore of Knight, who played bumbling anchor Ted Baxter. "Every time we see each other we talk about how it seems only halfway right without him." Mark Dagostino
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