Mystery! Music! Comedy! and Thanksgiving parades! PBS's venerable Mystery! series turns to author Tony Hillerman for its first American tale. Among network movies are stories of the Martin and Lewis comedy team and the entrapment of a group of Pennsylvania miners, plus a Brady Bunch farce. Those lovable Osbournes are back, while ABC debuts Dinotopia. And as Paul McCartney adds a musical note to the week, we take the occasion to measure the historic impact of McCartney and the Beatles on television.
After 22 years, PBS's "Mystery!" offers its first thriller by an American author: Tony Hillerman's bestseller "Skinwalkers," set in the Southwest and featuring two Navajo detectives. The two-hour production, starring Wes Studi and Adam Beach, is the first in a projected series of Hillerman novels for "Mystery!" It airs Sunday at 9.
The program is something of a Redford family project. Jamie Redford, son of co-executive producer Robert Redford, adapted Hillerman's novel.
Studi plays Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Beach is Officer Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, who confront a killer who uses Navajo witchcraft as a terrifying MO.
Leaphorn is the seasoned older cop, assimilated to urban ways. Chee is the upstart, an FBI Academy grad with a sideline as a Navajo healer--which turns out to be useful because the story involves a killer who has a special antipathy toward medicine men, including Chee.
Ominously, the murderer hints that he is a "skinwalker," a Navajo witch with the supernatural power to change from human to animal, move with lightning speed and kill with curses.
Alex Rice and Sheila Tousey co-star.
Published in 1986 and winner of the 1988 Anthony Award for mysteries, "Skinwalkers" has been updated to reflect the reliance of today's police on cell phones and the Internet.
MARTIN AND LEWIS
Sunday at 9 on CBS
Sean Hayes (Emmy-winner from "Will & Grace") and Jeremy Northam get the leads in this fact-based movie that follows the tumultuous relationship between entertainers Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, the most famous comedy act of their day. Beginning with their early rise to stardom, the movie looks at the forces that brought them together and then pulled them apart.
THE PENNSYLVANIA MINERS' STORY
Sunday at 9 on ABC
William Mapother, John Ratzenberger, John David Souther and Marisa Ryan star in a movie based on the experiences of the nine coal miners who were trapped in a Pennsylvania mine last summer. It took 77 hours to rescue them. Part of the movie was shot in the Quecreek Mine, where the men were trapped.
YOUNG DR. FREUD
Wednesday at 9 on MPT, 10 on WETA
David Grubin's film retraces Sigmund Freud's early life, from his birth in 1856 to the publication of his landmark book, "The Interpretation of Dreams," in 1900. The two-part special examines how Freud created theories that have become part of the fabric of 20th-century life and thought, shaping contemporary notions of identity, memory, childhood and sexuality. Blair Brown narrates; Liev Schreiber provides the voice of Freud.
Thursday at 8 on ABC
This series about a lost continent where dinosaurs and humans live together, based on the mini-series of last May, premieres with two one-hour episodes. Erik von Detten and Shiloh Strong star as teenage brothers Karl and David Scott, with Michael Brandon as their father. The other human inhabitants are played by Georgina Rylance, Jonathan Hyde and Sophie Ward. Lisa Zane plays the leader of the renegade Outsiders. This long-delayed fall series required extra production time to complete its extensive special effects.
Thursday at 10 on NBC
This special will present stories and reflections of Elvis Presley from music artists Bono, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, No Doubt, Dave Matthews, Britney Spears, Chuck D and Steven Tyler and others including Dennis Hopper, Denis Leary and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The show will include performances from contemporary artists of four Presley hits culled from the new RCA CD "Elvis 30 #1 Hits."
THE BRADY BUNCH IN THE WHITE HOUSE
Friday at 8 on Fox
Here's the plot: Bobby finds a lottery ticket worth $67 million and his father, Mike Brady, returns it to its owner. Seeing that there is an honest man among us, the President of the United States adds Brady to his ticket. When the president resigns in a scandal, Brady becomes the nation's chief executive, only to find that an asteroid is about to smash into Earth and obliterate life as we know it.
Gary Cole and Shelley Long play Mike and Carol Brady. Chad Doreck, Blake Foster, Max Morrow, Sofia Vassilieva, Autumn Reeser and Ashley Drane are the kids. Tannis Burnett plays Alice Nelson.
IT'S A VERY MERRY MUPPET CHRISTMAS MOVIE
Friday at 8 on NBC
Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Cusack and David Arquette star with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and other Muppets in a two-hour story that pays homage to many Christmas movies. In it, Kermit struggles on Christmas Eve to save the Muppet Theater from a bank owner (Cusack), who plans to demolish it and open a trendy nightclub. Also appearing: Matthew Lillard, William H. Macy, Carson Daly, Kelly Ripa, Joe Rogan, "Saturday Night Live's" Molly Shannon and the cast of "Scrubs."