Amid the marathon celebrations of the Statue...
Amid the marathon celebrations of the Statue of Liberty’s centennial is a not-to-be-missed gem, Ken Burns’ Oscar-nominated documentary, simply entitled The Statue of Liberty (Channel 28 Sunday at 8 p.m., Channel 50 Wednesday at 9 p.m.). Burns unravels the statue’s fascinating history--for example, she was based on a design for a statue that sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi had hoped would grace the entrance to the Suez Canal--along with irresistible archival material and comments from important figures in arts and letters, many of them emigres, whom he has asked to define liberty and what the statue means to them. Pausing thoughtfully before he replies, writer James Baldwin says that “for black inhabitants of this country, the Statue of Liberty is simply a very bitter joke meaning nothing to us.”
Not surprisingly, Lady Liberty’s 100th has brought back the 1984 miniseries Ellis Island (CBS Sunday through Tuesday at 9 p.m.), which in its unchallenging way says less about America than it does about American TV and its inability, with few exceptions, to exhilarate as it entertains. It does faithfully re-create teeming Ellis Island, the New York processing center where immigrants were herded like cattle through customs, and it does convey the squalidity of tenement life awaiting most newcomers, but the story moves swiftly uptown to follow the intertwined destinies of a Russian emigre songwriter (Peter Riegert) and an ambitious Italian gardener (Greg Martyn).
Also in keeping with the Liberty centenary and Fourth of July spirit are the airing of the patriotic perennials, Yankee Doodle Dandy (Channel 13 Thursday at 8 p.m.) and Stars and Stripes Forever (Channel 11 Friday at 9 p.m.). Also in the celebratory mood are George Sidney’s The Harvey Girls (Channel 11 Tuesday at 9 p.m.) and Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis (Channel 11 Wednesday at 9 p.m.), both starring Judy Garland.
Sidney Sheldon’s ‘Bloodline’ (ABC Sunday at 8 p.m.) runs mighty thin but it does have the saving grace of Audrey Hepburn’s radiant presence. As an unabashed potboiler it’s suitably lurid and preposterous, but unfortunately it merely simmers because its heavily populated, incredibly thick plot demands so much exposition there’s scant time for character development or even action. Hepburn is working as a paleontologist in Manhattan when the accidental death of her father, founder of a far-flung Zurich-based pharmaceutical empire, brings her home to take charge of the trouble-plagued company.
Also airing Sunday (at 8 p.m. on NBC) is Poison Ivy, a pleasant comedy set in a boys’ summer camp and starring Michael J. Fox.
The absorbing QB VII, in which Anthony Hopkins is haunting as a guilt-ridden former concentration camp doctor, occupies Channel 13’s 8 p.m. movie slot Monday through Wednesday.
The scary 1984 TV movie Rearview Mirror, in which crazed escaped convict Michael Beck forces Lee Remick to drive him through Carolina swamp country, repeats Monday at 9 p.m. on NBC.
Other TV movies in reruns include the romantic comedy Happy Endings (CBS Friday at 9 p.m.), in which John Schneider and Catherine Hicks fall in love on the rebound, and The Scarlet Pimpernel (CBS Saturday at 8 p.m.), a splendid 1982 retelling of the beloved swashbuckler starring Anthony Andrews.
Although it takes a while for Same Time, Next Year (Channel 13 Saturday at 8 p.m.) not to seem merely a filmed play, Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda are winning as annually recurrent lovers, both of them married to others, meeting once a year for 26 years at a Mendocino resort.
James Ivory’s subtle and elegant film of Henry James’ The Europeans, starring Lee Remick as an ill-fated adventuress, airs Saturday on Channel 50 at 10 p.m.
Selected evening cable fare: Arrowsmith (AE Sunday at 6); King Lear (Bravo Sunday at 8); Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Movie Channel Sunday at 9 and Wednesday at 7); Golden Boy (WOR Monday at 6); The Bostonians (Movie Channel Monday at 7); Richard III (Bravo Monday at 7:30); Lost in America (HBO Monday at 8); Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? (Lifetime Monday at 8); As You Like It (Bravo Monday at 10); In Which We Serve (Showtime Tuesday at 6); Man on the Roof (Z Tuesday at 7); Mask (Showtime Tuesday at 8, Cinemax Tuesday at 10, Cinemax Friday at 9, Movie Channel Saturday at 9); Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (Disney Channel Tuesday at 9); Last Night at the Alamo (Bravo Wednesday at 8:30); Leadbelly (Z Wednesday at 9); The Karate Kid (Cinemax Thursday at 8); Prizzi’s Honor (HBO Thursday at 9, SelecTV Friday at 8, Z Friday at 9); Americana (Movie Channel Friday at 7:30); His Girl Friday (Nickelodeon Friday at 8); Rio Bravo (Cinemax Saturday at 6:30); Cloak and Dagger (HBO Saturday at 7); A Clockwork Orange (Bravo Saturday at 9).