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Masterpiece Theatre (PBS, 9-10:30 p.m.): ''Martin Chuzzlewit,'' Dickens's partly comic masterpiece about a scramble for inheritance money, is being offered in a serialized dramatization starring the brilliant Paul Scofield (up for this year's Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in ''Quiz Show'').

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He plays both the title character and his brother, a sour miser. A love story, a murder mystery, and other elements figure in this compelling tale. The great novelist once called it the best of his stories, an opinion supported by Dickens biographer Peter Acroyd.

The five-part miniseries continues on successive Sundays.


The Oscars (ABC, 9 p.m., EST, to conclusion): A TV personality and not a movie star will be the object of much of the attention during the 67th Annual Academy Awards Presentation.

The reason is that David Letterman is host -- his first time in the job, although he has hosted the Emmys (not to mention having won several). His fans are looking for a few sardonic one-liners and maybe even a disruptive moment or two from the loose-lipped king of late-night talk shows. This year's Oscar theme, in fact, is comedy, and funny moments in movies over the years will be screened at the opening of the show.

Many observers see ''Forrest Gump'' winning Best Picture, although ''Pulp Fiction'' is a strong contender. Both films comfortably lead the other three nominees (''Quiz Show,'' ''The Shawshank Redemption,'' and ''Four Weddings and a Funeral'').

But many fans are disappointed that the documentary ''Hoop Dreams'' wasn't nominated for Best Picture and must compete for Best Documentary, although less publicized is the fact that the other documentary contenders are also excellent.

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The list of presenters is a celebrity parade, as usual, and three of the five nominees for Best Original Song will be performed by Elton John, Randy Newman, and Patti Smyth.

Please check local listings for these programs.

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