TV highlights for the week of April 6-12. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available (see explanation box below).
SUNDAY - 4/6
Pocahontas (Disney, 7-8:25 p.m.): Pocahontas may have caught the most flak of any Disney heroine since Cinderella. Critics cried foul for the film's historical inaccuracies. Nonetheless, the movie has all the Disney staples: lavish animation, Oscar-winning music, celebrity voice-overs (including Mel Gibson), and of course, cute sidekicks. These are combined with a strong environmental message and a heroine who realizes that happily ever after doesn't necessarily mean marrying the man of her dreams.
David (TNT, 8-10 p.m.): Despite its TV-PG rating, this movie rather graphically tells the Old Testament story of King David (Nathaniel Parker) and his predecessor, Saul (Jonathan Pryce). Much violence and grimness overwhelm the story's more-inspirational elements. Also distracting is Leonard Nimoy, starring as the prophet Samuel. He acts well, but it's hard to get past the voice of Mr. Spock. Part 2 airs Wednesday. (TV-PG)
Masterpiece Theatre (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): The first foray by "Masterpiece Theatre" into feature filmmaking is "Persuasion," a beautifully crafted adaptation of Jane Austen's last novel. More somber than her earlier works, the 1995 movie tells the story of a lonely upper-class woman (Amanda Root) who finds herself face-to-face with the sea captain (Ciaran Hinds) she was persuaded to reject eight years earlier. The terrific cast includes Sophie Thompson, memorable for her role as Miss Bates in another Austen film, "Emma."
Louisa May Alcott's 'The Inheritance' (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): This TV movie is based on a 150-year-old manuscript found last year at Harvard University. "The Inheritance," by Louisa May Alcott, was written when she was just 17 - and it shows. It's filled with longing looks, dropped handkerchiefs, and deathbed confessions. Edith (Cari Shayne), an orphan raised by a wealthy family, struggles against class warfare to find true love. The script has more in common with Alcott's "blood and thunder tales" than "Little Women" - although it seems to invite comparisons by using music from the 1994 adaptation. Meredith Baxter is wasted as a fluttery wife, but Tom Conti is a standout as a Victorian father with some decidedly modern ideas. (TV-G)
MONDAY - 4/7
The American Family and Television: a National Town Hall Meeting (Bravo, Disney, Family Channel, Nickelodeon, USA, 7:30-8 p.m.): This forum, moderated by journalist Linda Ellerbee, kicks off Tune in to Kids and Family Week, April 7-13. Check local cable listings for more family-friendly programming throughout the week.
TUESDAY - 4/8
Biography (A&E, 8-9 p.m.): According to people interviewed on the street, Leonardo da Vinci is artist of the "Mona Lisa" and running for mayor. To help set everyone straight, "Biography" (now celebrating its 10th year) offers this introduction to the 15th-century Italian painter, sculptor, and inventor. Calling him "the original Renaissance man," it follows Leonardo from his childhood in Vinci through his mastery of art and his fascination with human anatomy and engineering.
WEDNESDAY - 4/9
Reading Rainbow (PBS, broadcast time varies): The series that encourages children to read begins its 14th spring season. This episode about artistic expression features the book "Regina's Big Mistake" by Marissa Moss, a charming work about a girl whose fear of making a mistake almost keeps her from finishing her art project.
THURSDAY - 4/10
Fired Up (NBC, 9:30-10 p.m.): Sharon Lawrence ("N.Y.P.D. Blue") gets a chance to strut her comedic stuff in this new series by executive producer Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier"). Gwen Leonard (Lawrence) finds herself ousted from the good life when she loses her job and her condo. Not one to let being downsized cut her down to size, Gwen promptly talks her former assistant (Leah Remini) into letting her become her roomie and business partner. (TV-PG)
SATURDAY - 4/12
Leaving L.A. (ABC, 9-10 p.m.): This new drama - sort of a "Twin Peaks," "ER," "N.Y.P.D. Blue" mix - is not badly written and acted. Set in the Los Angeles coroner's office, the show has as many dead characters as alive. The premire introduces the quirky team that keeps the place running: the technician who brings the bodies in, the clairvoyant who handles their personal effects, and the investigators who look into their deaths. But its strong cast, featuring Anne Haney and Chris Meloni, is not enough to overcome the queasy feeling the subject matter can leave you with. (TV-14)
Gun (ABC, 10-11 p.m.): This new series by producer Robert Altman ("The Player") follows the misadventures of a pearl-handled gun as it slips through a different owner's hands each week. The premise is certainly not original: For example, E. Annie Proulx followed the various owners of an instrument in the novel "Accordion Crimes." In the premire, Daniel Stern guest-stars as an out-of-work actor on his way out of L.A. when a stop at a minimart gives him an unexpected shot at fame. (TV-PG)
PICK OF THE WEEK
Sunday, April 6,