Picks and Pans Review: Olivia Newton-John in Australia

updated 08/08/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/08/1988 01:00AM

HBO (Thurs., Aug. 4, 2 p.m. ET)

B-

Something about bicentennials brings out the dorkiest in a people. I remember our 200th birthday with cringes. Now it is Australia's turn to blush. Here Olivia Newton-John pays tribute to her homeland in what HBO calls a "picture-postcard concept special." Here's the concept: Olivia sings on tall ships, with sheep shearers in the outback, to muscle men on the beach and in the historic Port Arthur prison, all the time changing into lots of darling outfits. The music's fine—much of it from her new album The Rumour. Olivia can't be anything but cute. And the scenery is occasionally spectacular. But the bicentennial national navel-gazing does grate on the senses. If only Olivia had saluted her homeland in song on its 20 1st birthday.

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