November 15, 1993 12:00 PM

(Sun., Nov. 14, 9 p.m. ET)


Plotwise, this seven-hour sequel begins right where the 1989 TV classic left off: Having buried his compadre and Texas Ranger riding partner Gus McCrae down by the Rio Bravo, old Woodrow Call (the Tommy Lee Jones role, now played by Jon Voight) determines to drive a herd of mustangs back up to his spread in verdant Montana. The members of the new trail gang include William Petersen, Louis Gossett Jr., Johnny Mathis look-alike Reginald T. Dorsey and Nia Peeples. (Yes, the hip-shakin’ hostess of Party Machine plays a vengeful vaquera.) Barbara Hershey assumes the Anjelica Huston role of Clara Allen, the proud Nebraska homesteader. Dennis Haysbert plays the villain, a smiling sidewinder named Cherokee Jack. Oliver Reed, who looks less than thrilled to be bouncing around on horseback, plays a wealthy Scottish rancher. Rick Schroder (see page 17), Chris Cooper, William Sanderson and Tim Scott reprise their parts.

With its sweeping landscapes, the mini is easy on the eye and tells a story that becomes increasingly involving. But the acting is less artful, the illusion less persuasive than in the original. And director Mike Robe’s formal approach to dramaturgy makes the film quite reminiscent of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate. A truly touching ending bumps the mini, which plays out on Tuesday and Thursday, up one mark to a…

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