In the past few seasons, Tyne Daly has played several dark characters, including a murderous mother-in-law in a fact-based TV movie.
I like her better as a heroine, so it’s a pleasure to return to 1993’s “Scattered Dreams: The Kathryn Messenger Story” repeated on CBS at 9.
This star vehicle allows Daly to do what she does best: portray a victim who must pull herself up by her bootstraps.
Her Kathryn Messenger describes herself as poor, white trash. Despite being illiterate, destitute and naive, she tries to raise her children to be responsible members of society.
Her efforts go for naught when she and her husband (Gerald McRaney) are wrongly accused of fraud and sent up the river. Then Kathryn must fight back (and learn how to read) to get herself released from jail and regain custody of her three youngest children in time for a Christmas celebration.
Karen Croner’s script is slow moving but involving. The uplifting ending will come as little surprise.
The movie gets a boost from Neema Barnette’s atmospheric direction, which captures the persecution, physical abuse and victimization of women sent to jail in the early 1950s.
Daly, best remembered for “Cagney & Lacey,” is made for this role. Like Mary Beth Lacey, Kathryn is a common-looking, iron-willed fighter who stands up for herself and others.
She makes “Scattered Dreams,” inspired by actual events, a winner.
“Mad About You,” NBC at 8: Lisa Kudrow of “Friends” reprises her role as Ursula, the spacey waitress. The main story - a funny one - revolves around Paul and pregnant Jamie’s (Paul Reiser, Helen Hunt) efforts to decide on guardians for their child.
“Promised Land,” CBS at 8: You can make it an all-Gerald McRaney night by tuning in this repeat from February, in which Russell takes a job in a silver mine. When a roof collapses, he and a dozen co-workers are trapped.
Cable Calls “Fleetwood Mac: Classic Albums,” VH1 at 5: This fascinating hour looks at the making of the band’s Grammy-winning and multiplatinum 1977 album, “Rumours.”
Many of the songs reflected changing relationships within the band. You’ll hear about that in interviews with Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
“Dalziel and Pascoe: Ruling Passion,” A&E; at 6 and 10: The mismatched British detectives (Warren Clarke, Colin Buchanan) are at it again. This time, Pascoe and his wife go on holiday but arrive at a country house to find that three of their friends have been shotgunned to death.
More than a few stuffy townsfolk had motives. As the mystery unfolds, Pascoe’s life changes both personally and professionally.
“Tonight,” NBC at 11:35: Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, actor Robert Wuhl and Emil Popescu and performing sea lions.
“Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS at 11:35: Race car driver Mario Andretti and singer John Hiatt.
“Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” ABC at 12:35 a.m.: Liza Minnelli, writer-director Steve Oedekerk, columnist Peter Bart and writer-producer Thad Mumford.
“Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC at 12:35 a.m.: Comedians The Smothers Brothers and musical guest Fun Lovin’ Criminals.
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