PICK OF THE WEEK
New School Order
Friday, Oct. 3, 10-11 p.m.
TV highlights for the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 4. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available (see explanation bar below).
* SUNDAY - 9/28
The Wonderful World of Disney (ABC, 7-9 p.m.): After a seven-year hiatus, "The Wonderful World of Disney" returns to prime time. The series opens with the broadcast premire of "Toy Story," the 1995 computer-animated movie about the secret life of toys. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, and Don Rickles are among the stars lending their voices to this wonderfully original film. Later offerings will include remakes of "Oliver Twist" and "Cinderella," starring Brandy (of "Moesha" fame) and Whitney Houston. (TV-G)
Get to the Heart: the Barbara Mandrell Story (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): She "was country when country wasn't cool," so why isn't this movie as cool as Barbara's life story? Well, to begin with, Maureen McCormick (a.k.a. Marcia Brady) is unconvincing as Mandrell. With the blond poofy wig and pink frosted lipstick, it's hard to get past the fact that it's Marcia. But that's only half the problem. The movie glosses over significant parts of Mandrell's life and just briefly mentions events such as her popular television variety show in the early 1980s. The movie concentrates more on the near-fatal car crash in 1984. Mandrell, Dolly Parton, and Kenny Rogers make cameo appearances, but this true story about one of country's biggest stars lacks heart and soul. (TV-PG)
* TUESDAY - 9/30
Baseball Playoffs (ESPN, 1-7 p.m. and Fox, 8-11 p.m.): The boys of summer step into postseason play beginning with division series playoffs. NBC will also be airing some playoff games later in the week.
Before They Were Pros (TNT, 8-9:30 p.m.): If you're interested in learning about how the biggest names in football rose to the top, then this 90-minute special is for you. Complete with home movies and conversations with parents, friends, and players, the program takes a look at the childhood years of NFL stars Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, and John Elway, among others. (TV-PG)
NYPD Blue (ABC, 10-11 p.m.): The series, which begins its fifth season, picks up where it left off: Simone's (Jimmy Smits) undercover sting ended with the shooting of the mobster Joey Salvo. The chief suspect? His partner, Sipowicz (Dennis Franz).
* WEDNESDAY - 10/1
Spin City (ABC, 8-8:30 p.m.): In the season opener, the mayor's office is agog when Paul's mom (guest star Raquel Welch) puts in an appearance. (TV-PG)
* THURSDAY - 10/2
Mystery! (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): The venerable series kicks off its new season with "Into the Blue," an involving if convoluted tale of college chums, family secrets, and drowned women. In a real reversal, John Thaw abandons his role as Chief Inspector Morse for that of chief suspect. Thaw is rumpled and disarming as a failed businessman-turned-caretaker suspected in the disappearance of a young woman on the Greek island of Rhodes.
* FRIDAY - 10/3
New School Order (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): This compelling and thought-provoking story shows how small-town America is handling change. With increasing diversity and booming school enrollment, rural communities are being forced to adjust - ready or not. Filming over the 1995-96 school year, director Gini Reticker documented the experiences of students, faculty, parents, and townspeople of the North Penn School District in Lansdale, Pa. The school's dilemma: It has too many students, but if it builds another high school, residents will face rising property taxes.
There are other issues on the table: The North Penn school-board candidate has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, sparking a heated debate in the community; there's concern over religious involvement in school-board elections; and parents are worried about what values will be taught, if any at all. Don't miss this one - it's so well done that it doesn't matter what part of the country you're from.
National Desk (PBS, date and time vary): Journalist Larry Elder hosts the first of this three-part series examining social problems in the United States. In the first part, conservative African-Americans question black leadership's stance toward white racism in the 1990s.
* SATURDAY - 10/4
Newton's Apple (PBS, 11:30 a.m.-noon): The season opener of this upbeat and entertaining family science program offers a behind-the-scenes look at Universal Studio's Theme Park in Hollywood. Host Eileen Galindo finds out how the dinosaurs were made to look so lifelike in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" ride. The show also answers questions about the best kind of food to feed your pets and how enzyme proteins get stains out of clothes.