TV highlights for the week of Aug. 22-28. Shows listed are not necessarily recommended by the Monitor. All times are Eastern; check local listings.
The Rat Pack (HBO, 9-11 p.m.): This drama is less about showbiz than politics. The cool and hip "rats" - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop - not only helped shape American culture in the '50s and '60s, but according to this movie, they also helped John F. Kennedy win the presidential election. Even though Ray Liotta (Sinatra) and Don Cheadle (Davis) turn out strong performances, this biopic falls short of a compelling drama. The movie, unauthorized by the Sinatra family and denounced by Bishop, has generated much controversy. (TV-MA)
The Baby Dance (Showtime, 9-10:35 p.m.): Jodie Foster's absorbing drama focuses on the complexities of adoption. Wanda LeFauve (Laura Dern) is a poor pregnant woman, living in a trailer park, expecting her fifth unwanted child; Rachel (Stockard Channing) and Richard Luckman (Peter Riegert) are a well-to-do-couple who want to adopt Wanda's child. Problems arise, however, when the couples clash over cultural, religious, and monetary differences. Sharp acting, the bond that forms between mother and adoptive mother-to-be, and a surprise ending make this a rich and unforgettable experience. (TV-14, DLV)
NFL Football (ABC, 8-11 p.m.): Clash between last year's Super Bowl teams. Champion Denver Broncos host Green Bay Packers.
One-on-One With David Frost - George Bush: a President's Story (A&E, 9-11 p.m.): Read his lips. Former President George Bush reflects on his personal and political life. Review tapes were not available at press time, but the publicist says "lots of rare and never-before-seen footage." (TV-G)
Into The Rising Sun (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): A delightful voyage on how 15th-century Portuguese navigators laid the course that changed both East and West. The enduring impact on culture and commerce by Vasco da Gama's discovery of a sea route to India is retold not through reenactments but by revisiting memoirs and historical monuments. Episodes air on succeeding Wednesdays.