No time for chitchat. Too much to review. So without further ado...
MYSTERY: THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
PBS (Thurs., Feb. 5, 9 p.m. ET)
PBS marks Sherlock Holmes's 100th birthday by resurrecting him. When last seen on Mystery, Holmes hurtled to his death—or at least Watson thought so—but then survived to sleuth again. Judging from the shruggable case Sherlock solves upon his return and from the way Jeremy Brett portrays the detective as a self-centered, boorish dandy, this Holmes was better off dead.
GREAT PERFORMANCES: THE EBONY TOWER
PBS (Fri., Feb. 6, 9 p.m. ET)
Laurence Olivier—who's been on TV these days even more than Dick Clark (but we're glad for it)—plays a crotchety, sex-crazed old artist who lives in France with two young artist-assistant-amours: gorgeous Greta (The Coca-Cola Kid) Scacchi and orange-haired Toyah Willcox (the British rocker). Then Roger (Nicholas Nickleby) Rees enters to argue art with Olivier and to bisect the old man's strange triangle by falling in love with Scacchi. Since The Ebony Toweris based on the 1974 novel by John Fowles, who can be as enigmatic as a W-4 form, I suspect I missed a mess of messages, but I don't care. I loved the cast, the script, the look, the show: 100 percent pure class.
Cinemax (Sat., Feb. 7, 9:30 p.m. ET)
Striking out on his own from Late Night With David Letterman, Chris Elliott gets a cable special in which he successfully catalogs every cliché ever seen in sitcoms and detective shows, from the dream sequence to the spit take to the holding-a-dead-friend's-head-while-screaming-"Noooo!"-to-the-skies scene. Give him points for thoroughness. But Elliott only mocks TV and makes it into a laughingstock. The real masters of twitting the tube, Garry Shandling and Chris's boss Dave, also make you laugh with TV while you're laughing at it.
THE TWO MRS. GRENVILLES
NBC (Sun.-Mon., Feb. 8-9, 9 p.m. ET)
Showgirl Ann-Margret marries wimpy but wealthy Stephen (Chiefs) Collins and makes his mom, Claudette Colbert, miserable. The regal Colbert—who counts the Duchess of Windsor and one Queen Mother among her pals—can't stand the idea of a floozy in the family. So she attacks Ann-Margret with put-downs as deft and deadly as a ninja's kick: "I'm sure your dinner parties will be a great success...one day." Ann and Claudette hate one another. Soon so do Ann and Stephen, who sleep around for spite and threaten each other with everything from divorce to poverty. Finally Ann-Margret puts her husband out of his misery—bang, bang. There is the story of The Two Mrs. Gs, a two-parter based on Dominick Dunne's novel (which also bears striking similarity to a 1955 Long Island society shooting). It's always fun for us real people to see rich people waste the happiness millions can mean. That's half the appeal of the mini. The other half is the pairing of Colbert and Ann-Margret. Whenever these two women duel, turning a mother-in-law joke into a horror story, The Two Mrs. Gs sears. Colbert brings nice and proper restraint to her role, and Ann-Margret brings lots of energy to hers (a bit too much in her soliloquies of screams). But between their great confrontations, there are missing links in a script that fails to give you motivation for all the hatred and the love, emotions that brew about as long as instant tea. Collins is miscast; he acts like a kid from the suburbs, not a boy born in a bank vault. On the balance sheet, though, The Two Mrs. Gs is still a rich treat.
THE LAST FLING
ABC (Mon., Feb. 9, 9 p.m. ET)
John Ritter's fed up with meaningless sex. Then he falls in insta-love with Connie (Hotel) Sellecca, except she's about to get married to a jerk. So Ritter vows to stop them and marry Sellecca himself. If you can't guess how this trifle ends, then you must have just bought your first TV.
A CAROL BURNETT SPECIAL
ABC (Tues., Feb. 10, 10 p.m. ET)
Carol Burnett, fresh from that fizzle Fresno, returns to comedy with her own special. She and Robin Williams start the show with a passable skit about death. Then they perform the whole thing again—but this time Williams ad-libs as I haven't seen him do in years, and the skit turns great. The rest of the show, with Carl Reiner and Whoopi Goldberg, follows the script, delivering a decent dose of chortles. But it's the first third of the show that's must-see.
CBS (Tues., Feb. 10, 9 p.m. ET)
The plot, from the 1984 best-seller by Mary Higgins Clark, has potential: power, politics, murder, sex and fame (all it needs is greed). But the script squanders any drama, suspense or realism while it randomly jams years of plot and background into a few lines of awkward dialogue. The direction is as bad and the acting's worse. Together, these villains flatten the plot until it's as thin as the movie's paper-doll characters, led by Lynda Carter as an amateurish TV reporter who's searching for a lost past and Angie Dickinson as an ambitious Senator trying to forget her past.