PICK OF THE WEEK
Monday, Dec. 1, 9 p.m.-12:20 a.m.
TV highlights for the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available (see box below).
SATURDAY - 11/29
The Skins Game (ABC, 4:30-7 p.m.): With $600,000 on their minds, Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, and Mark O'Meara go head to head in this popular golfing event. The rules are different: Each of the 18 holes is a tournament in itself, and the golfer who wins the most money wins the tournament - not necessarily the player with the best score.
SUNDAY - 11/30
Smudge (TNT, 6:30-7 p.m.): In less than 30 minutes, this Christmas special illustrates how tenderness and compassion can overcome isolation. Cindy (Andrea Friedman), a physically and mentally challenged young woman, breaks a rule at her group home: She sneaks an abandoned puppy into her room. Following "Smudge" is E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. (TV-G)
Annabelle's Wish (Fox, 7-8 p.m.): Narrated by country singer Randy Travis, this animated Christmas story revolves around an adorable calf named Annabelle. Born on Christmas Eve, Annabelle longs to fly like Santa's reindeer but instead makes a wish for her friend Billy. Heartwarming and lovable. (TV-G)
Midnight in Savannah (A&E, 8-10 p.m.): If you've seen Clint Eastwood's adaptation of John Berendt's nonfiction bestseller "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," then you might want to check out this behind-the-scenes documentary. At its center is John Williams, an antiques dealer who shot and killed a young street hustler in 1981. He was acquitted after four trials. Included in this documentary are interviews with Berendt and several people who knew Williams (he died in 1990) - a 79-year-old piano player, a female impersonator, and a con artist. (TV-PG)
Borrowed Hearts (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): In this leisurely paced fantasy, an angel paves the way for a struggling single mother (Roma Downey, "Touched by Angel") and her young daughter to make their way into the heart and home of her wealthy boss (Hector Elizondo). The story line is like a potluck of Thanksgiving leftovers. Still, "Hearts" has the cheery stuffings of a rags-to-riches tale told for the holidays. (TV-G)
The Fifties - The Fear and the Dream (History Channel, 9-11 p.m.): Based on David Halberstam's 1993 bestseller, the first installment of this seven-part documentary focuses on the early part of the decade, examining America's middle class - from their fear of communism to achieving the American dream. Parts 2 through 7 air Monday through Friday. (See review, right.) (TV-G)
Shoot the Clock: Fitting Your Life Into Your Life (Lifetime, 10-11 p.m.): Hosted by Sherry Stringfield (who left "ER") and produced by Linda Ellerbee, this special profiles the lives of six women from Reading, Pa., trying to balance work, family, and personal time. Each has a different story: Pat quit her job to become a full-time mom to her five children; Elaine, a single woman who concentrated on her career in her 20s and 30s, now feels a romantic void in her life. Although the program is lightweight, it gets its point across: It's difficult for women to juggle both work and family.
MONDAY - 12/1
Public Housing (PBS, 9 p.m.-12:20 a.m.): Veteran cinma vrit filmmaker Frederick Wiseman aims his camera on Chicago's Ida B. Wells housing project, where 5,000 residents face the daily struggle of life in the modern-day, big-city ghetto. In one scene, teenage girls hear a long lecture about birth control while babies cry in the background; in another, the police evict an elderly man from his apartment but do so with kindness. During the course of the film, Wiseman's camera also shows how police officers play various roles - from enforcer to counselor to an authority figure for people who have nowhere else to turn. Wiseman's documentary is so compelling, powerful, and real that viewers are left wondering how he was able to place his camera so invisibly. (TV-14, L)
TUESDAY - 12/2
The American Comedy Honors (Fox, 8-10 p.m.): A delightful salute to Candice Bergen, Tim Conway, Cybill Shepherd, Roseanne, Kelsey Grammer, and Keenen Ivory Wayans. (TV-PG, L)
College Basketball (ESPN, 9:30 p.m.-midnight): It may not be March, but madness has gotten a head start. National champion Arizona plays Kansas in a rematch from last year's NCAA tournament. For the rest of the season, the winner will be remembered as the team that beat the other.
Barbara Walters - The 10 Most Fascinating People of 1997 (ABC, 10-11 p.m.): Barbara Walters spotlights some of the year's biggest names: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, actress Ellen DeGeneres, cloning scientist Ian Wilmut, dancer Michael Flatley, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Alan Greenspan, film star Arnold Schwarzenegger, singer Elton John, golfer Tiger Woods, and talk-show host Kathie Lee Gifford, plus a secret top pick.
TV-Y All Children
TV-Y7 Directed to Older Children
FV Fantasy Violence
TV-G General Audience
TV-PG Parental Guidance Suggested
TV-14 Parents Strongly Cautioned
TV-MA Mature Audience Only
S Sexual Situations V Violence
L Language D Dialogue