By Mike Hughes
Gannett News Service
By Mike Hughes
"The Mermaid Chair," 6 p.m., Lifetime; repeats at 5 p.m. tomorrow and 4 p.m. Monday. An overheated story is rescued by the subtle skill of director Stephen Schachter and his cast. Sue Monk Kidd's novel has a woman reluctantly revisiting her hometown, on a Carolina island. The reason for her return is wildly overwrought; so is the temptation she finds there. This film gives us little feeling for who this woman is or why she seems so angry at her husband. In the wrong hands, "Mermaid" could have been awful, soap-opera mush. Fortunately, it's directed by Schachter ("Door to Door"). He keeps it believable, getting straightforward work from Kim Basinger and her supporting cast. Canada did much of the job here. Filming was on Victoria Island, with Canadians (Bruce Greenwood and Alex Carter) as male leads. The result works nicely. With a lush look and an excellent music score, "Mermaid Chair" survives its story's excesses.
Football, 2 p.m., ABC. Ohio State visits Texas, in a battle of two of last year's powerhouses.
Tennis, 4 p.m., CBS. OK, not everyone wants to see large men collide. Here's the alternative, the women's finals of the U.S. Open, in Flushing, N.Y.
"Trapped in the Towers" (5 and 9 p.m., A&E), "Inside the Twin Towers" (6 and 10 p.m., Discovery Channel) and "World Trade Center: An American Icon" (6 p.m., History Channel). With the fifth anniversary arriving on Monday, cable channels rerun some of their better documentaries relating to the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Cops" season-opener, 7 and 7:30 p.m., Fox. This show starts its 19th season, already totaling close to 700 episodes.
"Desire" (7 p.m.) and "Fashion House" (8 p.m.), myNetworkTV (KFVE). It was a busy week, what with kids going to school and all, so some people might have missed the debut of this network. Not to worry; Saturdays provide recaps of each week, to let you catch up. Like soap operas, these prime-time novelas have pretty people in danger and in heat. Unlike soap operas, the stories will end; each will run on weekdays for 13 weeks.
"The Replacements," 8 p.m., Disney Channel. After debuting Friday, this cartoon settles into its regular spot. It's a fun idea, with a brother and sister able to order replacements for any annoying adults. The only flaw is that the first four stories all have similar themes, sort of "be careful what you wish for." That may grow old.
"America's Most Wanted," 8 p.m., Fox. The 20th season begins with a report on the 900th capture related to the show. Depending on how you count, only eight other prime-time series have had 20 seasons; next year, this show passes "Gunsmoke" and Red Skelton.
"Law & Order: Criminal Intent," 9 p.m., NBC. A school chancellor's body has been found in the river. It turns out that he was a big gambler — and big loser — on a casino boat.
"Saturday Night Live," 10:30 p.m., NBC. Julia Louis-Dreyfus hosts, with music by Paul Simon.