TV highlights for the week of March 16-22. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available (see explanation box below).
TV-Y All Children
TV-Y7 Directed to Older Children
TV-G General Audience
TV-PG Parental Guidance Suggested
TV-14 Parents Strongly Cautioned
TV-M Mature Audience Only
SUNDAY - 3/16
Sports on Silver Screen (HBO, 8-9:30 p.m.): This program offers fans of sports and movies the best of both worlds. Engagingly written by Frank Deford, a commentator on National Public Radio, it looks at the games and faces that have caught Hollywood's eye in the past century.
The Hunchback (TNT, 8-10 p.m.): Do we really need another version of Victor Hugo's classic Paris tale? This TV movie is so dark and full of fake blood that it's hard not to squirm while watching. Mandy Patinkin ("Chicago Hope") stars as Notre Dame's bell ringer, Quasimodo. Both he and his "protector," the misguided man of the cloth Dom Frollo (Richard Harris), are enchanted with the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda (Salma Hayek, "Fools Rush In"). While Quasimodo is attracted to her goodness, Dom Frollo is simply obsessed with her. In the end she is the downfall of both men, although her fate is different from the one Hugo envisioned. Hinted at here are the broader social and class issues of Hugo's story, but these are largely overshadowed by melodrama. (TV-PG)
The Irish in America (A&E, 8-10 p.m.): Between 1650 and 1922, 5 million people emigrated from the Emerald Isle to America. This documentary looks at what made them leave and what they overcame and achieved when they got here. Narrated, rather unevenly, by actor Aidan Quinn.
MONDAY - 3/17
Darby O'Gill and the Little People (Disney, 8:30-10 p.m.): Disney celebrates St. Patrick's Day with an evening of Celtic-themed programming. Among the offerings is this charming 1959 fantasy about an old storyteller and his friend the King of Leprechauns. Featuring Albert Sharpe and Sean Connery.
Bob's Bob Bob Newhart Newhart Marathon (Nickelodeon, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.): Mild-mannered nebbishes of the world, unite! Nickelodeon is celebrating the addition of "Newhart" to its classic-TV lineup with a five-night marathon featuring favorite episodes from all three of the deadpan comedian's sitcoms.
TUESDAY - 3/18
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Disney, 3-4:10 p.m.): For those kids who don't own the video, here's a chance to snuggle down for an hour of cozy fun in the Hundred Acre Wood. A.A. Milne's whimsical classic remains enchanting in any medium.
Biography (A&E, 8-9 p.m.): A&E revs up for next week's Oscars with five of Hollywood's greats. Reminiscences by Jane and Peter Fonda are highlights of this episode about their father, Henry. Sidney Poitier is featured on Wednesday, and Friday showcases the luminous Audrey Hepburn.
Social Studies (UPN, 8:30-9 p.m.): That's right, it's another new comedy set in the classroom. This time the locale is a boarding school in New York where the students are less than likable caricatures. What is enjoyable is comedian Bonnie McFarlane playing a hip, thoughtful teacher. (TV-PG)
Spin City (ABC, 9:30-10 p.m.): The gaffe-prone mayor's office makes amends with the deaf community, led by Sarah Edelman (Marlee Matlin), after its new sign-language interpreter messes up. (TV-PG)
WEDNESDAY - 3/19
Gone With the Wind (TNT, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.): Love, war, Atlanta in flames! It doesn't get any more epic than this 1939 Oscar winner.
THURSDAY - 3/20
NCAA Basketball Tournament (CBS, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.): The Sweet 16 square off in live, regional matches beginning today.
World Figure Skating Championships (ABC, 8-11 p.m.): Men's and pairs finals (taped) from Lausanne, Switzerland. The competition concludes Saturday.
Mystery! (PBS, 9-10:30 p.m.): Twelfth-century mayhem abounds as Derek Jacobi returns as Brother Cadfael. A body of a nun is discovered frozen in ice, and circumstantial evidence points to Cadfael's fellow monk. Also, Brother Cadfael must discover the identity of a mysterious woodsman - and the answer gives viewers clues to the monk's secular past.
Keeping Up Appearances - the Memoirs of Hyacinth Bucket (PBS, 10:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.): (That's pronounced BOU-quet, for any plebians.) That stalwart bastion of civility will go to hilarious lengths to preserve the niceties of existence (and her Royal Doulton china). If you haven't caught this delightful Britcom, tune in to this greatest-hits special to discover why Patricia Routledge was recently voted Britain's most popular actress. Since it's pledge month, air times may differ.
FRIDAY - 3/21
Rain Man (TBS, 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.): Tom Cruise stars as a spoiled egotist who kidnaps his autistic older brother on a cross-country road trip. Dustin Hoffman picked up a well-deserved Oscar for his portrayal of an autistic savant in this 1988 best picture.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Keeping Up Appearances - the Memoirs of Hyacinth Bucket
Thursday, March 20, 10:30-11:30 p.m. (PBS)