In 1995’s The Big Green (ABC Sunday at 7 p.m.) Anna Montgomery (Olivia d’Abo), the nicest thing Britain’s done for Texas since deciding not to colonize it, explains to her skeptical and seriously attitudinal students that there are four important factors to the game of soccer: Fitness, technique, tactics and game psychology. They respond by staring, slack-jawed. Throw in one kid who has both a big secret and the best athletic skills and what you have, in essence, is a puckless “Mighty Ducks.” Which is not necessarily bad, just necessarily derivative and a little tedious, unless you’re six.
The Man Without a Face (CBS Sunday at 9 p.m.) marked Mel Gibson’s ambitious and largely successful directorial debut. It intelligently relates the relationship that develops, against considerable odds, between a 12-year-old boy (Nick Stahl, a wonderful actor) in need of a father as much as some tutoring, and a former prep school teacher (Gibson). The teacher has been a recluse for many years because the right side of his face was badly scarred by fire. As an actor and as a director, Gibson shines in the credible way in which he develops a pupil-and-teacher relationship and, in turn, a loving father-and-son relationship.
The Merchant-Ivory production of Remains of the Day (USA Sunday at 5:00 p.m.) is a beautifully melancholy romance between two British people who point-blank refuse to acknowledge emotional attachments and, constricted by an unwritten professional code, can’t even bring themselves to address each other by first names. While the thought of all this decorous self-denial between a butler and a housekeeper (Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, never better) in the days before World War II may sound uninvolving, this 1993 film is quite the opposite.
Consenting Adults (ABC Saturday at 9 p.m.) could just as well be called “Thy Neighbor’s Wife” or even “The Wages of Sin.” A somewhat diverting but finally disappointing 1992 thriller, it is characterized by a premise even Pat Buchanan could love: If you so much as think about straying from the marital straight and narrow, all heck is sure to break loose. With Kevin Kline, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Kevin Spacey, Rebecca Miller and Forest Whitaker.