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Saturday, May 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Harmful Intent’ Will Keep Your Attention

By John Martin New York Times Syndicate

The master of the medical potboiler, Dr. Robin Cook (“Coma”), knows how to get a protagonist in and out of a deadly trap.

So when anesthesiologist Dr. Jeffrey Rhodes is convicted of malpractice and, subsequently, second-degree murder, you can be certain he’ll find a way to clear his name.

It’s how he escapes that generates the suspense, and 1993’s “Robin Cook’s ‘Harmful Intent”’ (repeated on CBS at 9) is a nail-biter that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Tim Matheson stars as Rhodes, convicted of killing a patient with a powerful painkiller. When he gives a bail bondsman (Alex Rocco) the slip in order to search for a way to prove his innocence, he must also evade a fierce and determined bounty hunter (Robert Pastorelli). And, of course, there’s the real killer lurking about.

Screenwriter Martha Weingartner deserves credit for preserving the fascinating medical detail that makes Cook’s novels click. If there’s a weak link, it’s that it will dawn on you how difficult it would be for the killer, whose motive is severely underdeveloped, to have pulled off his crimes.

Aside from that, “Harmful Intent” is a great TV read. And Pastorelli (“Murphy Brown”) is a genuine treat, playing the tough-guy bounty hunter with an engaging swagger.

Highlights

“Promised Land,” CBS at 8: The network cashes in on this week’s “Roswell” fever with this repeat from October. The Greenes are sidetracked in Roswell, N.M., where they become involved with a clan of UFO believers.

Russell (Gerald McRaney) tries to solve the mystery of a missing astronaut.

James Brolin and singer Leon Redbone guest-star.

“Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare” (1995), FOX at 8: Robert Hays (“Airplane!”) is a husband and father of three who tries to protect his family from a swarm of agitated African killer bees that buzz into a small California town near the Mexican border.

The people who made this movie should be dealt with harshly. They should be locked in a room and forced to watch it two or three times in a row.

“The Naked Truth,” NBC at 8:30: The series debuted on NBC in January with this bit of nonsense built around star Tea Leoni. Her tabloid magazine has been sold to the family of meatpacker Les Polonsky (George Wendt of “Cheers” fame), who wants to reorganize the staff and turn the Comet into a respectable magazine.

“P.O.V.,” KSPS at 2 a.m.: “Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary” examines how California’s Proposition 187, which denies public education to undocumented aliens, changed a Los Angeles school. This intimate film cuts to the heart of the matter - the children and their teachers.

Cable Calls

“The Wrong Man” (1957), AMC at 4 and 10: Henry Fonda plays a man wrongly accused in this Hitchcock thriller told in a semidocumentary style. The tale is based on the true story of a New York City musician trying desperately to clear his name.

It’s not as clever as other Hitchcock efforts, but Fonda renders a convincing performance.

Vera Miles co-stars.

“Biography,” A&E; at 5 and 9: Just in time for everyone who has been to the movies to see Disney’s “Hercules” is this biography of the legendary hero.

“Unplugged,” MTV at 10:30: The Wallflowers perform.

Talk Time

“Tonight,” NBC at 11:50: Actor Chris Farley, actress Shannen Doherty and musical group The Presidents of the United States of America. Repeat.

“Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS at 11:35: Jason Priestley (“Beverly Hills, 90210”), Patricia Richardson (“Home Improvement”) and music group The Cicadas.

“Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” ABC at 12:35 a.m.: Naomi Judd, Carrot Top, Deepak Chopra and author Nancy Friday.

“Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC at 12:50 a.m.: Justine Bateman (“Men Behaving Badly”) and musical guest David Bowie. Repeat.

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