02/08/1988 at 01:00 AM EST
Showtime (Sat., Feb. 6, 9:35 p.m. ET)
Cinemax Sessions has been the best musical series on TV. Now there's another contender for that crown: Showtime's Coast to Coast. In his second episode, producer Ken Ehrlich has ironed out the wrinkles that crept into his first, and now he has a great musical magazine—exciting, entertaining and even intelligent. This month's show is about performers who are looking to the past in their search for new music: Buster (né David Johansen) Poindexter sings ballads, calypso and the blues; Richard (Fairport Convention) Thompson joins Beausoleil for some spectacular Louisiana zydeco; Sting teams up with saxophonist Branford Marsalis and Coast host Herbie Hancock to sing standards—Lady Be Good, then a super rendition of Sister Moon. These are the show's great moments. The BoDeans also provide some nice ones as they return home for a concert in Wisconsin. And singer Eliza Gilkyson provides the show's only less-than-highlight bits; her melodies are sweet, but her lyrics have all the subtle nuance of a TV preacher's sermon. You don't have to like every act to applaud Coast for finding what's fresh and fun in music. For that, Coast to Coast deserves a standing O.