TV Eye



That's right darlin' ... Elvis is back. Well, his music is, anyway, on TNN, as Country Salutes Elvis Aug. 6, 7 pm.

Ahhh... our Internet service is working once again. I can still hardly believe how desperate it felt without it. Accelerated heartbeat... clammy hands... flushed cheeks. Now, the Net is back and so is my world.

I realize that most TV columns don't use the Net as reference. I do, for a number of reasons, but the largely because I think that we are headed toward a one-screen household. One screen, that is, for the television and computer, with cable being the connection. The systems such as WebTV are already blurring the lines between the two, though I think WebTV will ultimately be the
8-track tape of cyberspace connections. For now, remote controls seem to be breeding around my house.

With the Net back, I just plunged into a viewing schedule for next week. Be forewarned: It looks perverse.

1960's The Magnificent Seven comes on network TV (8/1, 11:05pm, TNT), so it will be broken up by commercials, but this western version of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai about hired guns invading a Mexican village is a classic; Elmer Bern-stein's theme became synonymous with Marlboro cigarette TV commercials in the Sixties. Look for Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, and James Coburn -- they were all pretty much up-and-coming stars back then. Unless you're a real fan, 1966's Return of the Seven, (8/2, 2am, TNT) pales by comparison; though Brynner indeed returns, even the presence of Warren Oates doesn't elevate Seven above typical sequel status...

If the locale in Piranha (8/ 1, 11:40pm, WTBS) looks familiar, that's because director Joe Dante's 1978 film about flesh-loving fish released into a river was made in San Marcos. The cast looks somewhat impressive -- Bradford Dillman, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn -- but it's the presence of horror cult queen Barbara Steele that assures its B-movie status. Ingénue actress Heather Menzies almost made the jump from Lisl in The Sound of Music to her own scream queen status (she also starred in another cult classic, Sssssss) but her career fizzled not long after her appearance in Playboy...

On Austin City Limits (8/2, 6pm, KLRN), Alison Krauss & Union Station and Merle Haggard perform, followed by another ACL at 7pm featuring Willie Nelson and Haggard singing old favorites with special guests...

Stay tuned, these back-to-back shows are followed by Gipsy Kings: Tierra Gitana (8/2, 9pm , KLRN), a look at the musical Reyes family on tour, examining its Gypsy culture and music...

A new episode of Oz (8/3, midnight, HBO) that Saturday night addresses capital punishment in its own inimitable way. I still haven't warmed to this series, but I do like the characters Ernie Hudson and Rita Moreno play -- Moreno is a nun named Sister Pete...

This week's recommended B&W film is a real weeper: Imitation of Life (8/3, 1:15pm, AMC), starring Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner, Robert Alda, and Troy Donohue. That is, if you can get over how ghastly the plot is. This potboiler was very controversial in its day, for it's now-dated plot about the interracial friendship between two widows and their daughters, but it's presented on such a grandiose and corny scale it's hard to take seriously. There is one truly amazing scene, though, the great Mahalia Jackson sings at Moore's funeral...

Back to the real world -- heh -- the Emmy-nominated King of the Hill (8/3, 7:30pm, KTBC) repeats the episode about Hank and Peggy's new Asian neighbors and a missing dog...

Intimate Portrait (8/3, 9pm, LIF), the Lifetime Channel's glossy, sometimes overly frilly version of Biography, looks at the life of Cleopatra -- who was Greek, not Egyptian --as documented through paintings, reenactments, and historical commentary...

Musicals are not for everyone, least of all me. But I always found myself drawn to Rodgers and Hammerstein because at the heart of their stories lie the themes of cultural change: think Oklahoma!, South Pacific, even Carousel...

1961's Flower Drum Song (8/4, 6pm, AMC) is not the most successful of these ventures, but it was brave enough to explore the generational conflicts in San Francisco's Chinatown. Way too long at 133 minutes, it does feature some spectacular dance sequences and stars Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Miyoshi Umeki, Juanita Hall, and Jack Soo...

Everyone needs to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off (8/4, 7pm, MAX) once in a while, especially if you're at home faking illness to avoid work. Director John Hughes' scenario of high schoolers Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, and Alan Ruck skipping school still gets the big laughs. Also stars Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, and Ben Stein...

If there's such a thing as too much monkey business, avoid the three-hour block of The Monkees (8/4, 7:30pm, NIK). If you love them, look for more Monkees on VH1...

The fall season of news shows from the networks draws closer still, but Roar (8/4, 8pm KTBC) has new episodes, even if the cast is more and more beginning to resemble Braveheart in Mad Max drag...

Courage Under Fire (8/5, 8pm, HBO) may not look as familiar but it, too, was filmed around Austin. Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Michael Moriarty star in this thoughtful story of a female Medal of Honor winner (Ryan)...

That's right, honey, it's that time of year for Himself! For Long Live the King: Country Salutes Elvis (8/6, 7pm, TNN), country stars like Lorrie Morgan and Ricky Van Shelton play songs that were written or popularized by Elvis Presley, but as "Amazing Grace" and "How Great Thou Art" were cited, you can pretty well figure "Viva Las Vegas" is out of the picture. Thankyaverramuch...

In case you need to be reminded of just how rotten television can be, let this title be fair warning: Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? The made-for-TV movie stars Tori Spelling and no one else of any note (8/6, 7pm, KXAN), which should give you another clue about its integrity. The movie deals with the earth-shattering plot of a mother worried about her daughter's mysterious and obsessive boyfriend. Yeah, right. Yeesh.


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