PICK OF THE WEEK
Dynasty: The Nehru-Gandhi Story
Wednesday, Jan. 7, 8-11 p.m. (PBS)
TV highlights for the week of Jan. 3-9. All times are Eastern; check local listings. Ratings are listed for shows when available.
SATURDAY - 1/3
AFC Playoff (NBC, 12:30-4 p.m.): Football action continues in Round 2 of a do-or-be-done series with the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the New England Patriots. Next, the wildest wildcard, the Minnesota Vikings, play the rested San Francisco 49ers in an NFC playoff on Fox, 4-7 p.m.
SUNDAY - 1/4
NFC Playoff (Fox, 12:30-4 p.m.): More football - the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Green Bay Packers. Later is an AFC playoff: the Denver Broncos at the Kansas City Chiefs, NBC, 4-7 p.m. By day's end, the season will be down to four teams and one playoff round from the Super Bowl.
Babylon 5: In the Beginning (TNT, 8-10 p.m.): What happened during the Earth-Minbari War? Viewers with little interstellar experience might find the question quizzical. This prequel to the science-fiction series is a 101 answer and spectacularly captures the events that nearly wiped out humans in an AD 2243 galactic war. Thanks to the good-natured Minbaris, the humans live. "In the Beginning" is followed by the fifth season premire of "Babylon 5," "The Gathering," airing 10 p.m.-midnight. (TV-PG)
Ask Harriet (Fox, 8:30-9 p.m.): Jack Cody (Anthony Tyler Quinn) just lost his job as an egotistical and self-centered sportswriter for the New York Dispatch. So when his buddy Ronnie (Willie Garson) finds out the newspaper needs a new women's advice writer for the "Ask Harriet" column, he urges Cody to submit writing samples. He eventually agrees to the outlandish idea because "who knows more about unhappy women than me?" But to qualify, he must literally dress for success because the editors and readers want to meet the writer behind the hottest column in town. The plot is somewhat tiresome, but the show overall has a lot of energy and spunk, and Ronnie is refreshingly funny. The sitcom moves to its regular time slot Thursday, Jan. 8, 8:30-9 p.m. (TV-PG, D)
Masterpiece Theatre - Rhodes (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): A dispassionate and comprehensive three-part biography of Cecil Rhodes, a committed imperialist who expanded the British empire in Africa in the 19th century. While doing so, he laid the foundations of apartheid. A man of incongruities, Rhodes was egotistical and charismatic and an unscrupulous financier who founded De Beers, the powerful diamond company (which gave the world the slogan "Diamonds are forever"). Diamonds, gold, love, and betrayal give this documentary the intensity of "Dallas." Parts 2 and 3 will be aired Monday and Tuesday at the same time. (TV-PG, L)
MONDAY - 1/5
Style & Substance (CBS, 9:30-10 p.m.): Think of a ditsy version of Martha Stewart in this new comedy starring Jean Smart ("Designing Women") and Nancy McKeon ("The Facts of Life"). Chelsea Stevens (Smart) is the head of a multimedia entertaining empire, and Jane (McKeon) is her producer. In the premire, Jane meets the quirky staff and her new boss. On the surface, Chelsea has it all - a hit TV home show and a top-selling magazine. But Jane discovers that she recently went through a divorce, and most of her friends and employees think she's crazy because she thrives on perfectionism. "You live in a strange world of potpourri and jam," Jane says to Chelsea. Her response: "Crime, poverty? In a world that smells like freshly baked bread, I don't think so." Funny lines and good chemistry between Smart and McKeon make this show a treat to watch. (TV-PG, L)
WEDNESDAY - 1/7
Dynasty: The Nehru-Gandhi Story (PBS, 8-11 p.m.): For comparison's sake, here's an understatement: Nehrus are the Kennedys of India. The Nehrus created a dynastic democracy and ruled the second most populous country for most of its 50 years of independence - Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi, and finally her son Rajiv Gandhi. For those who consider Indian history complex and confusing, "Dynasty" proves it to be otherwise. Experts on India will recognize the authoritative sources. The program ends with the question: Will any of the surviving Gandhis pick up the family's political mantle? For five years, the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv's widow, refused all invitations. But this week she picked it up, saying she will become active in politics and campaign in the coming elections.
THURSDAY - 1/8
New York Undercover (Fox, 9-10 p.m.): Another cop show, but this one is better than most. In the opener for the fourth season, undercover cops Williams and Moreno (Malik Yoba, Lauren Velez) are transferred to a new unit and are assigned to take down two professional robbers and cop killers (Dana Eskelson and Erik Todd Dellums). The case turns into a personal one when it's discovered that the criminals were responsible for the deaths of Williams's partner and Moreno's husband during a robbery of armored trucks. The drama is action-packed and never boring. (TV-14, LV)
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