02/08/1993 at 01:00 AM EST
Watching TV is like stargazing: The light you're seeing tonight is actually ancient by the time it reaches your eyes. Any trend that manifests itself on network TV was a happening phenomenon many, many months ago. The time delay exists because even after TV executives, who are slow on the uptake and cautious to begin with, finally green-light a project, it still takes months to gel on the air. So it is that the explosion in popularity that country music experienced last year is just now registering on TV. This week (Sat., Feb. 6,9 p.m. ET) CBS airs A Country Music Celebration, featuring Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood and many others. Before the month is over, NBC will have shown The Best of the Academy of Country Music, with Clint Black and Naomi Judd as hosts; Billy Ray Cyrus gets his own prime-time special on ABC; and CBS re-enters the fray with The Women of Country Music (from Patsy Cline to Mary-Chapin Carpenter). But forget all these manufactured specials. You haven't really arrived on TV until you're used as ratings bait on series and movies airing during a sweeps period like February. So helloooo, country. Randy Travis guest-stars on this week's Matlock (ABC, Thurs., Feb. 4, 8 p.m. ET) and duets with fellow Tarheel Andy Griffith. Naomi Judd makes her acting debut opposite Kenny Rogers in CBS's Rio Diablo on Feb. 28. Y'all come back now, hear?