Somebody has to care. In this case, Mark and Delia Owens do. They have given their lives over to a passionate campaign to save endangered African elephants. It may be that they care enough to make up for all of those who care too little.

An ABC News "Turning Point" special tells their inspiring and yet troubling story tonight at 10 on Channel 7. "Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story" tracks the Owenses as they track the elephants and the elephant poachers. It's an unusual tale, exceptionally well told and expertly reported by Meredith Vieira. She's a terrific interviewer, able to ask intimate questions without seeming a nosy gossip.

Their marriage almost dissolved as the two animal lovers became more and more immersed in their crusade. This melodramatic aspect of the saga is actually its least interesting, and though ballyhooed in ads for the program, it gets appropriately little screen time.

The Owenses have spent nearly 20 years in Zambia's North Luangawa National Park, an area about the size of Delaware. At first they were thrilled at what they found there. "It was like going back . . . to a time before, when all was right with the Earth," Mark says. Then they learned that elephants were being killed by the hundreds for the valuable ivory in their tusks, raising the possibility that the population there would be wiped out. The couple made it their business, indeed their obsession, to protect the dwindling herds.

"We weren't trying to be heroes," Delia recalls. "We didn't realize it would take so much and so long to make a difference," says Mark.

With belated help from the Zambian government, the Owenses eventually organized a small group of game rangers into an anti-poaching force and, with a helicopter, tried flushing out the bad guys. The rangers were told to shoot to kill if necessary, thus presenting the Owenses with the moral dilemma of taking human lives for the sake of animal lives. But 100,000 elephants had been callously slaughtered since the mid-'70s, and a thousand more were being killed off each year. There seemed no other way.

Late in the hour, another kind of moral dilemma presents itself. Big-game hunters from the United States pay $50,000 each to go on safari and bag elephants in Zambia with the government's blessing. This is sport -- shooting something as big as an elephant with a high-powered rifle? But the hunters claim they actually help prevent poaching, and they bring much-needed money into the impoverished area.

And when they do kill an elephant, they leave most of it behind, a ton of meat for hungry people. This we graphically witness, following a huge bull from shooting to butchering to the dinner table.

Viewers may wish they could see more of the elephants (and lions, crocodiles and hippos) and less of the Owenses. But there are stunning shots, from the ground and the air, of God's stately, graceful creatures in their natural habitat. In an oddly moving segment, a mother elephant is toppled with a tranquilizing dart so she can be fitted with a radio collar for tracking purposes. One of her calves hovers anxiously.

Is it possible that someday films like this one will be the only way to see wild animals now threatened with extinction? Yes, it is. But "Turning Point" makes a persuasive case for doing whatever can be done to keep that from happening. Radiant City'

Do you find that every now and then, your reaction to a movie is, "I didn't know what to make of it, but I enjoyed it"? That might be how you respond to "Radiant City," the ABC movie at 9 tomorrow night on Channel 7. One thing that can be said for the film is that there's not likely to be another one like it made for TV any time soon.

"Radiant City" departs from all the formulas. Even the fact that it's set in the somewhat distant past, the 1950s, makes it unusual.

The city of the title is actually a housing project in Brooklyn where low-income families live in close quarters and dream of escaping to some romantic, idyllic spot like, say, New Jersey. Kirstie Alley plays Gloria Goodman, one such woman who yearns to leave and take her two children and hard-working husband Al (Clancy Brown) with her.

Maybe it's the details that make the film ingratiating: teenage boys singing a cappella doo-wop songs like "Sh-boom" on the street corner; an old washing machine with a wringer on top; a little boy dressing up like Zorro, or rushing to catch the ice cream truck before it pulls away. More and more, the '50s seem like not just another time but a whole other planet. Some of us feel lucky to have lived there.

The story is told from the point of view, mostly, of Gloria's 10-year-old son, Stewie, played with impish authenticity by young Adam Lamberg. To Stewie, the projects are anything but confining. All his friends are there. His 16-year-old sister, Sherry, played well by Tori McPetrie (at last, a Tori who can act!), is madly in love with a cool guy named Johnny (Fab Filippo) who drives the neighbors crazy with his drum-playing.

Unfortunately, it's hard to know if Gloria is supposed to be crazy, too, or just frustrated. She does odd things like bang frying pans together to make a racket at dinner time. Though happily married, she flirts with a new neighbor, also married, who thinks he'll be the next Jack Kerouac.

Alley sticks out like a wildly inflamed thumb, too. She's not just the prettiest woman but the only pretty woman in Radiant City. She must be the radiance it was named after. The movie is ostensibly about how Gloria formulates and executes her plan to get the family out of the projects, but it's half over before she even comes up with a plan.

And yet though the plot is weak, many of the characters are strong. They bloom and blossom like wacky ghosts from years gone by.

Each member of the family must face a crisis of sorts. Stewie learns a secret about his mother that he has a hard time keeping to himself. Sherry has to say goodbye to Johnny when he moves to the suburbs. Al must appeal to the all-powerful housing authority not to evict his family just because he's making a little too much money to qualify as "low-income."

It's hardly a joyless life, though, and hardly a joyless movie. There's an especially disarming sequence in which the doo-woppers sing "I Only Have Eyes for You" on a soft summer night. One thing seems oddly absent from all these people's lives, however: television. They don't even seem to have heard of "Howdy Doody" or "Arthur Godfrey and all the little Godfreys."

Enough about "Radiant City" is fresh and unique to make it 75 percent satisfying, however, and for a TV movie, that's a good showing. CAPTION: Kirstie Alley stars in the unusual ABC Movie "Radiant City," set in 1950s Brooklyn.