Have you ever seen a haunted-house movie where you were desperate to move into the house yourself? In The House Next Door (Monday, 8 p.m., Lifetime), the house in question is so beautiful ' not a creaky gothic manor, but a contemporary showplace with clean lines and stunningly lit interiors ' that you're almost willing to overlook the fact that it's festering with evil spirits.
Actually, the house doesn't seem all that haunted in the first hour. The next-door neighbors (Lara Flynn Boyle, Colin Ferguson) watch as a puppy mysteriously dies and the house's architect (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) gets a bit moody. And, yes, the phones and TVs tend to go on the fritz within the house's range. But so what? I'd trade any of those annoyances for the perpetually flooded basement in my own home.
I admit that, in the second hour, the house is slightly more problematic. It causes husbands to push their wives down the stairs and children to rise from the dead. Plus, anyone who moves in becomes a raving lunatic. So I guess I wouldn't want to buy The House Next Door after all...at least not until interest rates come down a point or two.
1 vs. 100
Friday, 7 pm (NBC)
This new game show has the primal appeal of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.' One contestant is pitted against a group of 100 for a chance to win $1 million. They all try to answer the same trivia questions, with the contestant's prize money increasing as he eliminates more and more members of 'the mob.' The drama comes in the contestant's decision either to walk away or continue on the path to $1 million, since one wrong answer will cause all the accumulated prize money to vanish.
Another source of drama is watching host Bob Saget smile bravely as he performs the most humiliating task in his Hollywood career. The former sitcom star is now reduced to barking the show's catchphrase: 'Will it be THE MONEY? Or THE MOB?' One imagines Saget's agent posing a similar question as he offered his client this steady though embarrassing gig: 'Will it be THE MONEY? Or THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE?'
Paul McCartney: The Space Within Us
Saturday, 9 pm (A&E)
I've signed on as a lifetime Paul McCartney fan ' a commitment that carries a certain burden. Every once in a while you've got to hang in there as the ex-Beatle makes a complete fool of himself. 'The Space Within Us' is one of those times.
As he's been doing for years, Paul films a concert tour devoted to Beatles and Wings favorites. That's lame enough (can you imagine John Lennon on the oldies circuit?), but I can live with it. Hearing Paul sing 'I Will' is a sublime experience whether it's the first time or the fortieth.
The problem is the between-song segments. Not content to let the music speak for itself, Paul fills out the hour with testimonials from professors, heads of state and other important-seeming people. They give him credit for healing families, saving lives, solving conflicts among nations and generally being a god on earth. 'He's given us a great gift,' says Bill Clinton. 'His lifetime of music and his generosity of spirit are a perfect blend of what the world needs today.'
Still not egomaniacal enough for you? Okay, how about this: Paul intersperses every performance with shots of audience members weeping for joy at the very sight of him. It's a shameless tactic, and I'd have turned off the TV...that is, if I hadn't been weeping myself.
Damn this god on earth!
25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes
Tuesday, 8 pm (HGTV)
TV networks emphasize the grotesque on Halloween night, drenching the small screen in horror. TCM runs vintage monster movies, AMC concentrates on the Halloween franchise, etc.
HGTV also emphasizes the grotesque, in its own way. On this network, nothing is more frightening than plaid throw pillows placed on striped sofas. '25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes' will surely have interior-design types screaming in horror.
Tuesday, 9 pm (Bravo)
I never liked Caroline Rhea on 'Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,' but she redeems herself in this standup-comedy special. Rhea is giggly and chatty, appearing to think of things as she goes along. She's so casual that it takes you awhile to perceive her utter mastery of tone and pacing. This is casualness as high art.
Most of the time Rhea comes on like your best girlfriend, discussing aging, dentists and Weight Watchers. She's such an Everywoman that, in the rare moments when she gets political, she catches you pleasantly off guard.
'What do gay people want?' she asks with mock disapproval. 'They want to be in the military and get married. God forbid. Serve your country and be monogamous ' FILTHY PIGS!'
The Tonight Show
Tuesday, 10:35 pm (NBC)
Somebody in NBC's booking department made a big mistake by scheduling shock-rocker Marilyn Manson for his 'Tonight Show' debut on Halloween. The guy is truly creepy, and I wouldn't be surprised if he took the opportunity to bite Jay Leno's head right off at the neck. (Though I'm sure that wouldn't stop the head from continuing to tell dumb jokes.)