Hoops, Lifetime do it again

I never knew girls' high school basketball could be so vicious until I watched "Crossing the Line" (8 p.m., Lifetime). This latest message movie from the women's network stars Terry Farrell ("Becker") as Laura Mosbach, a former college basketball star who becomes the assistant coach for the championship girls basketball team at a small Michigan high school.

Girls' basketball is very important in this generic, all-American town. From the way the parents scream at the players, referees and coaches, you'd think they were watching the Green Bay Packers at the height of Vince Lombardi's reign. The team's legendary coach Thomas Holliday (Lawrence Dane) comes on like Bobby Knight with a hangover. He's so mean and mercurial, you almost cheer when he keels over with a heart attack at the end of act one.

Holliday's hospital stay puts Laura in charge of the Warriors, a hotshot team filled with insecure players pushed to the limit by their sports-crazy parents. One of them coasts through school, assured that every teacher will give her good grades. Another star vomits before each game.

Recently divorced, Laura strikes up a quick romance with the handsome Eric (Adrian Pasdar, "Mysterious Ways"). With his three-day beard and mellow manner, he sure looks like Mr. Right. But is he? Eric also happens to be the single dad of Carly (Sumela Kay), a promising player ignored and abused by the dictatorial Holliday.

It's not giving away too much to reveal that "Crossing the Line" concludes with a valuable lesson about good sportsmanship. But along the way, we experience some truly over-the-top altercations, including a brawl between parents in the high school parking lot and a referee sent to the hospital by an irate dad. Armed only with her good looks and a whistle, Laura stands as tall as Gary Cooper in "High Noon," a lonely voice of reason and virtue in a small town blinded by the pursuit of victory at any cost. Like the worst Lifetime movies, "Crossing" is obvious, predictable and didactic. Like the network's best movies, it sinks, or rather rises, to the level of camp.

� Two teens (Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire) enter the black-and-white world of the their favorite rerun in the 1998 fantasy "Pleasantville" (7 p.m., ABC). Wonderful visual effects and a great cast, including William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, Jane Kaczmarek and Don Knotts fail to save this satire from its heavy-handed symbolism.

Tonight's other highlights

� A brash hockey player (Adam Sandler) takes up golf in the 1996 comedy "Happy Gilmore" (7 p.m., Fox).

� "Biography" (7 p.m., A&E;) profiles rock promoter Bill Graham.

� "The Maze" (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings) examines the history of Northern Ireland's notorious political prison.

� The Dave Matthews Band performs on the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS). Tom Arnold will also appear.

Cult choice

Squeaky-clean newlyweds (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) spend the night in a very different kind of haunted castle in the 1975 spoof musical "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (7 p.m., AMC). Tim Curry stars in this time-warped period piece that launched a million midnight shows.

Series notes

All are repeats ... Baby-making takes a back seat on "King of Queens" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Joe Rogan hosts "Fear Factor" (7 p.m., NBC) ... Darryl's mother falls for her piano teacher on "The Hughleys" (7 p.m., UPN) ... Simon's driving lesson goes awry on "7th Heaven" (7 p.m., WB).

Dominic walks in his sleep "Yes, Dear" (7:30 p.m., CBS) ... Flex and Breanna bicker over school choice on "One on One" (7:30 p.m., UPN).


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