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`The Disney Sunday Movie': off to a questionable start

Disney, the name synonymous with wholesome children's entertainment, returns to television with what may prove to be ``wholesome family entertainment.'' Help Wanted: Kids (ABC, Sunday, 7-9 p.m., check local listings) is the premiere film of ``The Disney Sunday Movie'' series. Quoting Disney himself, president Richard Frank of the Motion Picture and Television Division of Walt Disney Productions, told me the series will be ``entertainment that kids will not be embarrassed to take their parents to.''

Well, it's not an auspicious start; ``Help Wanted'' could use a little help -- from a scriptwriter, a casting director, and from a knowledgeable psychologist. I do not recommend it for families with impressionable youngsters. In fact, I would suggest that ``60 Minutes,'' playing opposite the show on CBS, might make better family viewing.

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``Help Wanted: Kids'' concerns an unemployed New York City couple from an advertising agency who take jobs with an Arizona children's wear company that demands they have children to uphold the company image. They hire two wiseacre youngsters to fake it -- and from there on it is phoniness all the way. A complicated conclusion about stolen sportswear promotional campaigns, mixed in with confused feelings of parental love, mercifully puts an end to the whole disaster, and the Disney debut is over. Cindy Williams and Bill Hudson go along with the farce dutifully, and the youngsters, whom I will kindly allow to remain nameless, are directed to be tough, nasty, and old before their time. So much so that you tend to agree with Cindy, who wants them out of her life from the start.

Youngsters who watch this film need to be warned that the dishonesty portrayed is just farce, that the emotions portrayed are just for fun, that the whole thing shouldn't be taken seriously on any level -- even the entertainment level.

``The Disney Sunday Movie'' will be a weekly ABC series of mostly original dramas. Better than this one, I hope. National Geographic Explorer

The National Geographic Explorer (TBS, Sunday 8:05-10:05 p.m.) debuts on the cable superStation after an abortive try on ``Nickelodeon.'' It's the National Geographic Society try at a magazine show aimed at the whole family and, if you have access to cable, might be a better bet for Sunday than the Disney movie. The premi`ere show includes a short film on crane migration and a segment on Italy's marble artisans. TV ``Explorer'' is a natural extension of the magazine, providing fine alternative Sunday viewing for those trying to escape from February miniseries.

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