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John Doyle’s Critical List Print-ready version

by John Doyle
Toronto Globe and Mail
July 9, 1994
Original article: PDF

IN A NEW LIGHT '94 The airy, non-descript title is used because this program is a progress report on the issues surrounding AIDS. Although the American networks tend to shy away from dealing directly with the disease, ABC uses the celeb-fest formula once a year to increase awareness. Barbara Walters is the host and Lou Reed, Gregory Hines, Chaka Khan and Michael Feinstein perform. This year there is also an abundance of the so-called supermodels, with Christy Turlington and Veronica Webb also taking part in some fashion. ABC Ch. 7

8 p.m.
DANIELLE STEELE'S STAR For the next four Saturdays, NBC is rerunning the catalogue of TV movies based on Danielle Steele's souped-up Harlequin romances. The movies have traditionally been NBC's alternative to big sports events on other networks. This one, which features Jenny Garth from Beverley Hills 91210 as the blonde, wispy heroine, was a ratings hit last September. Our heroine is a country gal who overcomes disasters in love. If you're looking for believability and psychological veracity look elsewhere. This is a shiny, perky fantasy. NBC Ch. 2

9 p.m.
MUDDLING THROUGH This sitcom has been in the works for a year and CBS is finally throwing it onto the schedule. Stephanie Hodge, who has a gift for raucous comedy, plays a mother who returns to live with her daughters after spending three years in jail for shooting and wounding her cheating husband. Hilarity of a sort ensues. CBS Ch.4

SUNDAY 2 p.m.
* SUNDAY ARTS ENTERTAINMENT: DAME PEGGY One of the big British exports these days is TV programs saluting distinguished British actors. They're all over the place. This one, made just before Dame Peggy Ashcroft died, is a useful insight into the last 50 years of British theatre and film. Michael Billington is the owlish host who gently prods Dame Peggy into talking about her charmed childhood and long career. She's articulate, witty and occasionally acerbic about her years working with Olivier, Gielgud and Richardson. Best known to audiences here for her late roles in The Jewel in the Crown and the movie A Passage to India, she isn't glamorous. But she is a very engaging storyteller and she's very good at examining the roles for which she's famous - Juliet and Hedda Gabler. CBC Ch. 5

9 p.m.
* NIGHT OF THE HUNTER Movie buffs will recognize that this 1991 TV movie is a remake of a good, American gothic thriller directed by Charles Laughton in 1955. For this version Richard Chamberlain abandoned his good-guy image to play the creepy fake preacher who tracks down homeless children in the hope of getting the money stolen by their father. For about two-thirds of this version, the suspense and shocks work well, but the ending - radically different from the original - is plain dumb. It's still an enjoyable, murky thriller. ABC Ch. 7 and CITY-TV Ch. 57

MONDAY 8 p.m.
* THE GREAT MUSIC EXPERIENCE It has to be one of the greatest jam sessions ever recorded for posterity - this mammoth concert opens with the chanting of Buddhist monks and then evolves into music performed together by the Tokyo New Philharmonic Orchestra, Kodo drummers, The Chieftains, Ry Cooder and members of INXS. It all took place in Japan and it's the first of a planned annual series, backed by UNESCO as part of its World Decade For Cultural development. The guiding idea is that musicians from various cultures are taken to one country and asked to blend their music together with the locals. After the stunning opening segment this one becomes a fairly standard rock extravaganza. Joni Mitchell is present for a rare live performance, and Bob Dylan, in surprisingly good form, is at the top of the bill. Sometimes local Japanese musicians back the foreign stars and a cacophony is the result, but there are some remarkable musical moments during the three hours. MuchMusic

10 p.m.
JUST FOR LAUGHS On this week's show you can catch a few minutes with The Vacant Lot, a foursome that has already been signed up for its own CBC series this fall. The series is now running on Comedy Central in the States and, with the backing of Lorne Michaels, the four guys in the troupe are getting a lot of attention. The jokes are usually more rude than Kid In The Hall material, and like a lot of sketch comedy today, they never get political. CBC CH. 5

* indicates Doyle's best bet

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