WORTH NOTING ON TV

* THURSDAY

Wimbledon (NBC, 1-5 p.m. and 12:50-2:50 a.m. EDT): Women's semifinal matches from London's All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club. * FRIDAY

Wimbledon (NBC, 1-5 p.m. EDT): Men's semifinals (may run past scheduled time period).

Firing Line debate (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): As if it needed one, the already contentious show has chosen for this edition a hotly controversial resolution: ``The Death Penalty Is a Good Thing.''

Taped at Bard College in New York, the debate pits guests on predictable sides of the timely issue: In support are the rhetorically formidable William F. Buckley Jr., founder of ``Firing Line'' and National Review magazine, and Ed Koch, former mayor of New York, who for years has been talking tough about the death penalty (he wants to shorten the time of appeals, for instance).

Also on the pro side are Walter Burns, a Georgetown University professor of political science and author on the subject of capital punishment, and Susan V. Boleyn, senior assistant attorney general of Georgia, who has prosecuted many death-penalty cases.

The opposing side is headed by Ira Glasser, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union - a frequent and articulate presence on these ``Firing Line'' debates. He is not, incidentally, a lawyer, but a mathematician (go figure).

Joining Mr. Glasser is the president of Bard College, Leo Botstein (also seen often on this show), a musician who has recently been named conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in Washington (go figure).

Bryan Stevenson and Stephen Bright, both lawyers who have represented death-row inmates, also join the opposing side.

The clashes include fast exchanges, lots of ideological maneuvering, and some penetrating ideas from both sides. What emerges is one of most compelling ``Firing Line'' debates in recent years, dealing with one of the most sensitive subjects yet tackled in this forum.

Please check local listings for these programs.

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