WORTH NOTING ON TV

* THURSDAY

Great Railway Journeys II (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): The further away society moves from trains as the main mode of travel, the more appeal railroads seem to have for viewers. They are popular enough, in fact, to trigger this six-part sequel to a previous series on public stations.

This season's journeys - taking place in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America - are each hosted by a well-known person who reflects on the passage as viewers witness life inside the train and outside the window. It's not all pretty sight-seeing: The grim problems facing some of the areas are also documented.

In the first program - ``St. Petersburg to Tashkent'' - Natalia Makarova, the Kirov Ballet prima ballerina who defected in 1970, boards a train pulled by a huge steam engine in St. Petersburg for a two-week trip through Russia.

* SATURDAY

Much Ado About Nothing

(The Disney Channel, 9-11 p.m.): The acclaimed British actor Kenneth Branagh produced, directed, and stars in this 1993 film of Shakespeare's comedy, now having its TV premiere. Branagh adapted the play and shot it on location in the Italian countryside between Florence and Sienna, with some of the action occurring around the impressive 14th-century Villa Vignamaggio. The film's setting and costumes allow the time period to be anywhere from 1700 to 1900.

As producer and director, Branagh recruited a number of people -

including the composer and costume designer - from his well-received 1989 production of ``Henry V,'' which he also starred in and directed. ``Much Ado,'' a lively tale of tricky and sometimes misunderstood love, focuses on the young lovers Claudio and Hero, and also on the acerbic relationship of Benedict and Beatrice.

Branagh plays Benedict, Emma Thompson (Branagh's wife in real life) is Beatrice, Robert Sean Leonard portrays Claudio, and Kate Beckinsale is Hero. Denzel Washington has the role of the prince Don John, and Michael Keaton is the absurd figure of the constable Dogberry.

Please check local listings for these programs.

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