Life is Beautiful (Starz!, 8-10 p.m.): Roberto Benigni's tragi-comic exercise might seem like a slapstick farce about the Holocaust. But, at its heart, it's a skillful exploration of Fascism. Benigni poignantly plays an Italian waiter who's sent to a concentration camp with his family. There, the frazzled father concocts schemes to convince his little son that their stay at the camp is part of a game.
The Color of Love: Jacey's Story (CBS, 9-11 p.m.): Georgia Porter (Gena Rowlands) is a widow living in the fictional town of Sweet Creek, Ga., who must suddenly care for her orphaned, biracial granddaughter. Jacey's grandfather (Louis Gossett Jr.) shows up and wants to take Jacey home with him to the West coast. The grandparents must learn to put prejudice aside. Poignant, and wonderfully acted.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Titus (Fox, 8:30-9 p.m.): New series about a woefully dysfunctional family (all adults). Titus talks about how he and his brother experienced some emotional trauma growing up with their dad. There seem to be some serious intentions running near the surface - why bad parenting is so destructive - but the rather dismal, dark humor misses more often than it catches.
The Beat (UPN, 9-10 p.m.): Barry Levinson ("Wag the Dog," "Homicide: Life on the Streets") presents his new arty cop drama. The first episode introduces the new young cops and their sour relationships with women, as they catch a child molester and other villains. The dialogue is snappy, the camera work inventive (moving from video to film and back again), and it shows signs of improving with age.
On the Inside: Figure Skating (Discovery, 8-9 p.m.): In this episode of the "On the Inside" series, Discovery gives viewers a backstage pass to figure-skating techniques, trends, and training. It's a figure skating 101, and comes just ahead of the World Skating Championships, beginning March 25.
Mystery! Lady Audley's Secret (PBS, 9-11 p.m.): One of the most graceful this series has produced, the bloodless 19th-century tale is strangely affecting. A beautiful, accomplished young woman marries for money, though she harbors a secret past she will do anything to keep under wraps. Her husband's nephew seeks to destroy her. A little perspective on the treatment of women during the Victorian age is always worthwhile.
Battery Park (NBC, 9:30-10 p.m.): The new sitcom is set improbably in a tough urban police station. After years of "NYPD Blue," somehow this comedy doesn't hang together very well - although it might improve with time. Elizabeth Perkins stars as the strong-willed, self-absorbed police captain who wants to be mayor, leading a variety of clichd character cops.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society