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""RETURN OF THE NATIVE"" TOPS SUNDAY MOVIES

SHARE ""RETURN OF THE NATIVE"" TOPS SUNDAY MOVIES

"Return of the Native" (Sunday, 8 p.m., Ch. 5) is all the things that network television usually is not-- classy, literary and beautifully filmed.

Yet, oddly enough, this Hallmark Hall of Fame production based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel is just the sort of things TV so often revels in --a soap opera full of lust, deceit and tragedy.All dressed up in the finest of clothes.

An all-British cast, unknown to American audiences with the exception of Joan Plowright, brings Hardy's characters to life. There's the bewitching Eustacia Vy, a woman so lovely she brings not one but two men under her spell. (And, along the way, is accused by others of being an actual witch.

There's Damon Wildeve, who's passionately in love with Eustacia-- but who marries another when she spurns him.

And there's Clym Yeobright, a prodigal son of the heath upon whom Eustacia casts her spell when she thinks he's the one who will take her off to a life of glamour and excitement.

There are broken hearts aplenty, more than a few tragedies and a climax that doesn't disappoint.

All in a luscious, luxurious format that puts "Masterpiece Theatre" to shame.

It's quite a departure from regular network TV movies-- and a welcome departure at that.

SOMEONE ELSE'S CHILD (Sunday, 8 p.m., Ch. 4) is another fact-based drama, but not a bad one.

Lisa Hartman-Black, who's making a career out of movies like this, is more than up to the task of playing the mother who, in the midst of divorce proceedings, discovers the son she's raised for eight years isn't hers. And who embarks on a fight to find the boy she's lost, and-- after making a disturbing discovery-- fight for custody of both boys.

The movie seems to have been made a bit too soon --the final legal judgement isn't in yet-- but "Child" is a nicely made TV movie about a set of circumstances that would be too weird to believe if they weren't based on fact.

JACOB (6,8, and 10 p.m., TNT), is the latest Biblical epic from Ted Turner.

And like "Abraham," which aired in April, this one is properly reverential, more-or-less true to its Biblical origins-- but somehow vacant, empty and dull.

Matthew Modine is miscast as Jacob, and Lara Flynn Boyle ("Twin Peaks") is along for the ride as Rachel.

There's lots of tramping around in the desert and a few weak special effects, but once again this is the Bible made boring.