May 17, 1997 in Features

‘Odyssey’ Offers Classic Adventures

Faye Zuckerman New York Times Syndicate
 

Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey,” a classic tale of loyalty and determination, receives the Hollywood treatment in NBC’s “The Odyssey” (Sunday and Monday at 9).

It’s a big-budget extravaganza directed by Andrei Konchalovsky (“Runaway Train”), who delivers a beautifully photographed adventure set along sun-drenched beaches in Europe and the Mediterranean.

The story is of Odysseus (Armand Assante), a monarch who leaves his wife (Greta Scacchi) and son to fight in the war against Troy. His absence stretches on for years as he experiences legendary adventures involving the Trojan Horse, the man-eating Cyclops and the witch Circe (Bernadette Peters), who turns Odysseus’ men into wild animals. He even encounters the possessive sea nymph Calypso (Vanessa Williams).

Before he returns home, the gods want him to visit Hades and find the prophet Tiresias.

The four hours never spare on the blood and gore. There are graphic scenes of the Trojan War and the Cyclops getting a spear through its eye after eating a few of Odysseus’ men.

The movie culminates with a “Godfather”-like mass execution of all of Odysseus’ enemies.

In terms of storytelling, character development and intelligent dialogue this miniseries never disappoints. It’s one journey that flies by much faster and more engagingly than NBC’s recent “Gulliver’s Travels.”

It’s an odyssey to remember.

Highlights

“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” CBS tonight at 8: Grab some hankies. Dr. Quinn (Jane Seymour) is the only one who believes Sully (Joe Lando) is still alive in Part 2 of the show’s season finale.

The hour is capped with a ledge-top battle between Sully and his rival, Sgt. O’Connor (Patrick Kilpatrick).

“Early Edition,” CBS tonight at 9: Ice skating’s Tara Lipinski glides into a cameo when Gary saves her from a mishap. Most of the hour, however, focuses on a contrived story about Marissa’s new boyfriend and a plot to kill her college professor (Patricia Kalember, “Sisters”).

“Busted on the Job,” FOX Sunday at 7: Surveillance cameras capture employees doing bizarre and unusual things in this invasion-of-privacy hour.

“The Simpsons,” FOX Sunday at 8: You easily can guess what happens when Lisa joins an all-male military academy. She’s the recipient of hazing in this clever half-hour that spoofs the military. (A “Simpsons” repeat airs at 8:30.)

“3rd Rock From the Sun,” NBC Sunday at 8: The funniest show about aliens to hit the small screen wraps up the season with a special 3-D hour destined to be a classic. So pull out your special glasses, and catch the craziness, which includes Harry singing “Life’s Been Good to Me” from the musical “Faust.”

“Touched by An Angel,” CBS Sunday at 8: In the season finale about competitive stage mothers, you’ll see familiar Olympians: Gold medalist gymnasts Kerri Strug, Nadia Comaneci and Bart Connor appear. (Also, Green Bay Packer Reggie White contributes to this hour.)

Dee Wallace Stone turns in an affecting performance as a pushy mother whose attention to her daughter, an up-and-coming gymnastics star, causes trouble for her other child (Vincent Berry). Fortunately the angels come to the rescue.

“Disclosure” (1994), ABC Sunday at 8:30: This controversial movie examines what happens when a man (Michael Douglas) is the victim of sexual harassment. He, of course, fights fire with fire, and wins as the victimizer (Demi Moore) takes the fall.

Just like in the real world? Not.

“The X-Files,” FOX Sunday at 9: “Files” fans, listen up. It’s the season finale, and it packs a wallop.

Mulder stumbles onto proof of extraterrestrials, and Scully grapples with her own mortality.

“True Women” (1997), CBS Sunday and Tuesday at 9: It seems like everything (including the kitchen sink) has been thrown into this historical drama that spans five decades in the lives of adventurous women (Dana Delany, Angelina Jolie and Annabeth Gish) in the American West.

The intense four hours cover infant deaths, disease, slavery, resettlement of Native-Americans, the Alamo, the Civil War, bigotry, renegade Yankee soldiers and the suffrage movement.

Janice Woods Windle’s tale, roughly based on the women in her family, is at its best when it shows the strength of women in a male-dominated society. Their fortitude in the face of great danger is to be applauded.

In Part 1, Delany steals the show as a young mother who after the Alamo’s fall leads a group of women and children through dangerous territory to avoid approaching soldiers. In Part 2, the movie turns maudlin as the characters age and cope with regrets and loss of loved ones.

Cable Calls

“Weapons of Mass Distraction” (1997), HBO tonight at 8: Big business receives a ribbing in this black comedy, by Larry Gelbart (“Barbarians at the Gate”), about two media moguls (Gabriel Byrne and Ben Kingsley) who play dirty - literally. It’s ascerbic, sarcastic, absurd and filled with talk about sex organs.

Movie Marquee

“Clear and Present Danger” (1994), ABC tonight at 8: Thank heavens for a hero like Harrison Ford. He’s perfect as CIA agent Jack Ryan, first in Tom Clancy’s “Patriot Games” and then in this tense thriller.

This time the principled intelligence expert discovers a covert military operation aimed at a Colombian drug lord. Repeat.


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