Before that perennial squall of weepy movie stars and their windy thank-you speeches, there's "Safe Harbor" tonight at 8:30 on Channel 5. Starring James (brother of Kristy) McNichol, it's a half-hour sermonette on hope against holocaust -- kind of dumb, but also kind of sweet and, unlike the Oscars, blessedly brief.
This offering was produced for Capital Cities, the media conglomerate that's in the process of acquiring ABC, by a Paulist priest named Ellwood E. Kieser. The blond, doe-eyed McNichol plays Eddie, a teen-age wastrel in San Pedro, Calif., who spends his days in the harbor snoozing, smoking dope and worrying about The Bomb.
"It's all gonna be over soon," he philosophizes to his wastrel-buddies. "They're gonna drop the Big One." Why he is so all fired up about The Bomb -- certainly more than your average adolescent -- we never find out. Maybe he was free-basing when he saw "The Day After."
After leaping off a pier to escape a knife-wielding drug dealer, young Eddie is swept to sea and fished out by a Japanese skipper and his cute granddaughter, Marlo, played by the appealing Joan Chen. Their ensuing romance is G-rated, though McNichol, as a sop to commercial production values, is more often than not stripped down to his skivvies. Oh, Father Ellwood!
The rest is a rather scatterbrained hodgepodge of upbeat cliche's ("Hope turns caterpillars into butterflies") and cheery insights ("If enough people make peace, governments cannot make war"). But at least this show's heart is in the right place. At least it has a heart.