Set among the radiant waters of the Florida Gulf Coast, the 1985 Cocoon (CBS at Sunday at 9 p.m.) is a sly and salty bit of wish fulfillment that, by its tremendous close, has the entire audience wishing along with it. It involves a group of couples at a retirement community--Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, Wilford Brimley and Maureen Stapleton, Jack Gilford and Herta Ware, and Gwen Verdon and Don Ameche (who won an Oscar for his performance)--in a fantastic adventure lovingly devised by director Ron Howard and writer Tom Benedek from David Saperstein’s original story.
A new TV movie Liberace (ABC Sunday at 9 p.m.) stars Andrew Robinson in the title role and Rue McClanahan as the flamboyant pianist’s mother.
Valerie Harper and Gerald McRaney star in The People Across the Lake (NBC Monday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie about a couple who move their family to a lakeside home only to discover a terrible secret aabout the community.
Unholy Matrimony (CBS Monday at 9 p.m.), a new TV movie based on former New Orleans police detective John Dillman’s compelling account of his dogged investigation of a hit-and-run fatality he believes to be a murder, stars Patrick Duffy as Dillman. Charles Durning and Michael O’Keefe co-star as an unsavory mail-order minister and a doctor with a double identity.
Not since W. C. Fields has there been so lecherous a dentist on the screen as Compromising Position’s (Channel 13 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) Dr. Bruce Fleckstein (Joe Mantegna, on briefly but oh so hilariously), the Lothario of Long Island. When this particular kind of Dr. Feelgood is found stabbed to death with one of his own dental tools, a sizable share of his suburban community’s housewives suddenly find themselves suspect. This 1985 film is a delicious adaptation by Susan Isaacs of her own novel, directed with a light, knowing touch by Frank Perry. Among the wives are Susan Sarandon, who can’t resist playing detective, Judith Ivey and Mary Beth Hurt.
John Hughes 1985 Weird Science (Channel 5 Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is every oppressed, overheated 15-year-old boy’s dream in which Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith play a pair of high school teens who conjure up an ideal “older” woman on Mitchell-Smith’s computer. She turns out to be the cool, amused and experienced Kelly LeBrock. LeBrock is terrific but the picture is too often tasteless and contrived.
The new TV movie Jesse (CBS Tuesday at 9 p.m.) stars Lee Remick as a Death Valley mineworker’s wife who stands trial in 1965 for practicing medicine without a license. Scott Wilson co-stars.
Inside the Third Reich, a worthy 1982 five-hour drama based on the memoirs of Hitler’s architect, the late Albert Speer, repeats on Channel 7 in two parts, Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m. Rutger Hauer is outstanding as Speer, and Derek Jacobi is a convincing Hitler.
Hot Dog, the Movie (Channel 5 Wednesday at 8 p.m., again Saturday at 6 p.m.) is so split you wonder that it doesn’t pull apart on the screen. On the one hand, it has a great young cast--warm, capable and likable to an extraordinary degree. It has dazzling winter Squaw Valley settings and the excitement of young skiers for whom there are apparently no physical barriers whatsoever. On the other hand, there are crass scenes and even a notable racist tone that spoils the show. The 1984 film’s engaging young stars are Patrick Houser and Tracy N. Smith.
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Channel 5 Thursday at 8 p.m.) is a rambunctious 1979 drive-in movie designed to show off the Ramones, then a new group of East Coast New Wave rockers. It marked the solo directorial debut of talented Roger Corman protege Allan Arkush, who displays plenty of energy and humor. Somehow the notion that it’s OK for kids to burn down their school if they don’t get their way is disturbing, even if only meant in fun. Bouncy P.J. Soles stars as a fanatic fan of the Ramones, whose imminent arrival for a concert triggers all-out rebellion.
Anne Archer and Sam Neill star in the new TV movie Leap of Faith (CBS Thursday at 9 p.m.), a drama about a woman’s battle with a potentially fatal disease.
The Cotton Club (Channel 13 Friday at 8 p.m.) jettisons authenticity in regard to the famed Harlem hot spot yet comes up with a razzle-dazzle entertainment, a sort of gangster movie musical starring Richard Gere, Gregory Hines and Bob Hoskins as the club’s gangland proprietor Owney Madden.
There are a pair of new TV movies airing Friday at 9 p.m. Street of Dreams (CBS) stars Ben Masters as an L.A. private eye, and The Secret Life of Kathy McCormick (NBC) casts Barbara Eden as a grocery clerk swept up into a romance with a rich man.
The Jericho Mile (Channel 7 Friday at 9 p.m.) is that outstanding 1979 TV movie starring Peter Strauss as a Folsom lifer determined to become a track star.
Senegalese film maker Ousmane Sembene’s 1975 Xala (Channel 28 Saturday at 9 p.m.) is an outrageously funny comedy of manners that suddenly turns into a serious parable of corruption.