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John Leonard's TV Notes


The Target Shoots First (February 20; 8 to 9:15 p.m.; Cinemax) follows Chris Wilcha and his video camera from college, where he majored in philosophy and minored in rock bands, into a trainee job at Columbia House, the CD mail-order "club" owned jointly by Sony and Time Warner, where he is supposed to be a Gen-X expert on alternative music and will discover jargon, focus groups, corporate folk rites, sellout, and serfdom. Only the suicide of Kurt Cobain recalls him to his senses and saves his soul, after which an M.F.A. in film/video.

The Remorseful Day (February 22; 9 to 11 p.m.; Channel 13) finishes off John Thaw's Inspector Morse for good, in a case he should have let Kevin Whately's Sergeant Lewis handle in the first place -- because Morse knew the victim (Meg Davies, found naked and handcuffed to her bed, with her brains bashed in) either too well or not well enough. There is a surprisingly high body count and enough plausible suspects to stock a whole season, plus, of course, a requiem. A sad and satisfying end to thirteen years of sex and violence in seething Oxford.

Boycott (February 24; 8 to 10 p.m.; HBO) stars Jeffrey Wright as young Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, Terrence Howard as Ralph Abernathy, CCH Pounder as JoAnn Robinson, Reg E. Cathey as E. D. Nixon, and Iris Little-Thomas as Rosa Parks in a docudrama about the 382-day Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56, directed by Homicide's Clark Johnson. Actual film footage is interpolated into the standard narrative, along with "re-created" film footage made to look real, not to mention "simulated" home movies to make us see what's happening as if by accident. Wright has Dr. King to an eerie exactitude. And don't miss a bravura performance by Erik Todd Dellums as Bayard Rustin.

Kate Brasher (February 24; 9 to 10 p.m.; CBS) is a new mid-season dramatic series starring Mary Stuart Masterson as a single mother working two jobs to raise her teenage boys who seeks legal help at a community-advocacy center run by Hector Elizondo and Rhea Perlman and ends up embarking on a new career as a social worker herself. You will like all these people a lot, even if such terrible things seldom happen in this country to such stunning blondes.


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