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Camp Pain

In Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, the Donald Spoto version of the Camelot Passion Play, Joanne Whalley is less evocative of the woman Gore Vidal once called "the ci-devant tragic empress of the West" than Roma Downey was a few years back, but Tim Matheson is a passable JFK, Tom Skerritt and Diane Baker are distinct improvements on the usual Joe and Rose, Jennifer Van Dyck is a fine Caroline, Philip Baker Hall a superb Aristotle Onassis, and Jerry Adler an affecting Maurice Tempelsman. It is impossible not to be moved all over again by the ceremonies following the murders of Jack and Bobby. But while I was wondering what's next for Whalley after Jackie O and Scarlett O'Hara -- Amelia Earhart? Willa Cather? Margaret Mead? -- I also wondered when we'd become ashamed of our need for an ersatz royalty that specialized in marrying rich, wearing designer clothes, redecorating the White House, and charming Andre Malraux into loaning us the Mona Lisa?

But we are bloodsuckers. Which explains Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula, in which we are told that Vlad the Impaler (Rudolf Martin) got a bad rap. Sure, he liked to kill people, but most of them were either Turks or the corrupt Romanian nobility, and you should have met his brother Radu (Michael Sutton). Besides, Peter Weller has a lot to answer for, as the fifteenth-century Orthodox priest and Inquisitor who had it in for Vlad because the angry prince was pro-pope. Anyway, in spite of the many butchered bodies in this Ür-snuff flick, Vlad loved Lidia (a Jane March who looks a lot more like Jackie O than Whalley does) so much that they are now, somewhere in Transylvania, happily undead together.

Still, where is Vlad when Michael needs him? The Michael Richards Show has not improved itself by dumping the first half-hour the network sent to reviewers, in which Michael as a Dagwood Bumstead sort of private eye went undercover as a golf pro to investigate the CEO of a candy company, in favor of a subsequent episode, in which he goes undercover as a gigolo for raunchy sex against his will with an undiscriminating nurse. Not even William Devane, Bill Cobbs, Amy Farrington, and Tim Meadows can redeem this Get Smart for dimwits. What if a prat falls in a sitcom that nobody's watching?

TV Notes
Holocaust On Trial (october 31; 9 to 10 p.m.; Channel 13), a surprising installment of the Nova science series, replays the trial earlier this year in which British historian David Irving sued American academic Deborah Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust denier. Not only did he lose, but after all the evidence was in, the judge was harder on him than Lipstadt had been.

Children of Fortune (November 1; 9 to 11 p.m.; CBS) asks James Brolin, a Navy investigator, simultaneously to restore his relationship with his rebellious teenage daughter, Amanda Fuller, and to solve a red-herring murder case that takes both of them to a small town in Arizona where the charms of Virginia Madsen don't quite make up for the weirdness of Michael Moriarty and the odd fact that all the men seem to have many more than one wife.

Comedy Central Presents the N.Y. Friars Club Roast of Rob Reiner (November 1; 10 to 11 p.m.; Comedy Central) features Richard Belzer, Billy Crystal, Al Franken, Kevin Pollak, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and many, many bleeps.

Intimate Portrait: Victoria Woodhull (November 3; 7 to 8 p.m.; Lifetime), between interviews of historians and Geraldine Ferraro, tells the absorbing story of the nineteenth-century feminist and revolutionary who married three times, scandalized the nation by having an affair with Henry Ward Beecher, consulted with President Grant on women's suffrage, advised Cornelius Vanderbilt on spiritual matters, and started her own successful brokerage house.

Mrs. Brown (November 5; 9 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13), the John Madden movie starring Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, Billy Connolly as John Brown, and Antony Sher as Disraeli, was originally a BBC/Masterpiece Theatre production. So here, wonderfully, it is, free.


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