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updated 02/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

HELD HOSTAGE BY HYPE

Grade A+

All the babble, bombast and bile surrounding ABC's Amerika forces me to probe its cons and pros at length. But there are other shows this week. On Thursday, Feb. 12 (8:05 p.m. ET), cable's WTBS counters Amerika's anti-Soviet hostility with a film from the U.S.S.R about nuclear war, the intelligentsia's The Day After. Called Letters From a Dead Man, it is stirring and disturbing but sometimes as hard to fathom as a Russian novel. Grade: B. On Saturday, Feb. 14 (10 p.m. ET), HBO gives us more fear of fallout as Burt Lancaster, nuclear scientist, toys with Ben Gazzara, Kate Nelligan and other volunteers in a bomb shelter. I never thought any show could make nuclear nightmares look predictable and silly, but Control does. Grade: D+. In a lighter artery, PBS' Great Performances presents Graham Greene's modern-day tale Monsignor Quixote on Friday, Feb. 13 (9 p.m. ET), with magnificently charming performances from Alec Guinness as the innocent priest Quixote and Leo McKern as his pal Sancho. This one says more about love, hate and life than all the shows above or below.

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