What's on TV
SHOWS FOR SEPT. 29-OCT. 4
American Dreams (NBC, 8-9 p.m.): One of the best new series this season is set in Philadelphia of the early 1960s. Dad thinks he's earned the American dream his own small business and a happy home with wife and kids in obedient order. Then the oldest son wants to stop playing football and the oldest daughter wants to dance on "American Bandstand." What else can shatter a man's best vision of his life? Well, mom suddenly discovers she has a mind of her own. This show tries to deal with the major cultural shifts during this time by showing an American family going through them. The season première is promising. Let's hope it doesn't devolve into mere melodrama.
Prince William (ABC, 7-9 p.m.): This bio-pic tries awfully hard to be fair to the "party prince," as the British tabloids have labeled him. Will's life since the night he and his younger brother, Harry, found out their mother Diana, princess of Wales died in a car accident has no doubt been as sad and difficult as the film portrays. But the film itself is choppy, poorly written, and unbelievably sentimental. OK, bad as it is, it's still oddly fun to watch. Jordan Frieda as the dashing youngster, perpetually in the public eye, thrashes handsomely about in his teenage rebellion and his anger at the press. Young Mr. Frieda's performance is the only real reason to watch.
Boomtown (NBC, 10-11 p.m.): The première of this promising series introduces us to the LAPD with some affection. Its gimmick the stylistic device that makes it so different is that the crimes are seen from various points of view. Whether the series can maintain this storytelling form remains to be seen. But so far, so good. Donnie Wahlberg stands out among this excellent cast, as a thoughtful, sharp detective with a secret sorrow eating up his home life.
Still Standing (CBS, 9:30-10 p.m.): The new situation comedy covers familiar territory. A few minutes into it, one might wonder, why bother? But the pleasant diversion has this to say for it: A loving working-class couple devoted to each other and their kids don't take themselves or their children's slight transgressions too seriously. The jokes are funny without sinking too far into the muck. And best of all, English actor Mark Addy is a sweet man whose boyish pranks get his smart, neatnik son into trouble.
Less Than Perfect (ABC, 9:30-10 p.m.): Sara Rue stars in this offbeat office comedy that finally offers a full-figured woman in a starring role again. It's been a while since Roseanne. Claude Casey (Rue) gets her chance to move up the food chain in a TV newsroom when she temps as the private assistant to the self-absorbed, utterly selfish anchor (played with zest, if not much subtlety, by Eric Roberts). Rue is amazingly skillful with voice and facial expression, but she's also endearingly innocent.
Baseball Playoffs (Fox and ABC Family, 1 p.m.): The long road to the World Series kicks off today. Major-league teams like the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees, and the Minnesota Twins will compete in the opening games of four division series.