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Well-Acted ‘Moloney’ Packs Heft For Cbs

John Martin New York Times Syndicate

This season Peter Strauss has drawn the daunting task of going up against the meat of NBC’s Thursday lineup as the star of CBS’ “Moloney” at 9.

Tonight you can see why Strauss has led his network to a solid (though distant) second place in the time slot and why a growing number of viewers are warming to this police drama.

Strauss plays Los Angeles Police Department psychiatrist Nick Moloney, a sensitive guy but one who won’t be intimidated. That’s clear tonight when he suspects that a respected judge (check out this fine performance by Lawrence Pressman) is using his power to force women to be his sexual slaves.

In one case, the judge has exploited a stripper by telling her she’ll lose custody of her child if she doesn’t continue to have sex with him. She’s been before the court for her trouble with drugs. Guess who’s her supplier? (I pause to mention that the show’s opening strip-club scene is gratuitously explicit, something like you’d see in a cheapo pay-cable movie.)

Highlights

“Diagnosis Murder,” CBS at 8: Mike Connors reprises his “Mannix” private-eye role when Sloan (Dick Van Dyke) calls in his old friend to help solve a 24-year-old murder. Scenes from a 1973 “Mannix” are used in this unique and entertaining drama.

“Friends,” NBC at 8: As you’ve surely heard, Ross and Rachel (David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston) are headed for a split. I like the way the writers have taken their time setting up tonight’s and next week’s critical episodes.

Good laughs counter the serious stuff as Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) dates a U.N. diplomat who can’t speak English.

“Martin,” FOX at 8: In an hourlong Valentine’s episode, Lynn Whitfield guest-stars as Martin (Martin Lawrence) goes on a cruise and Gina (another way of writing around actress Tisha Campbell’s walkout) accidentally gets left at the dock.

“Mystery!” KSPS at 8 As a two-part “Inspector Morse” begins, the chief inspector (John Thaw) investigates the death of a well-known surgeon who may have been killed by a millionaire bookmaker (Brian Cox).

“Nowhere to Run” (1993), ABC at 9: Find a place to run from this dreadful action-drama starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as an escaped convict who helps out an endangered widow (Rosanna Arquette).

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