Picks and Pans Review: Two on the Aisles

updated 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

>Cable offers a pair of plays with distinguished casts this week—and the results couldn't be more different.

Arts & Entertainment Cable Network (A&E) presents The Rope (Thurs., Dec. 7, 9 P.M. ET), one of the channel's series of American one-act plays. The early, awkward Eugene O'Neill drama, a cruel twist on the prodigal son theme, features Elizabeth Ashley, Jose Ferrer, Len Cariou and Brad Davis, all acting up a storm. But they can't help the bilious, obsolescent Rope, the chief quality of which is its relative brevity.

Turner Network Television (TNT) offers a modernization of the 1932 George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber play, Dinner at Eight (Mon. Dec. 11, 10 P.M. ET). It's a serio-comedy of manners about a disastrous society event; Marsha Mason, John Mahoney, Lauren Bacall, Charles Durning and Harry Hamlin star. It doesn't compare with the 1933 George Cukor film with John Barry-more and Jean Harlow, but it's an enterprising, entertaining diversion.

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