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If you were around in the early 1960s, you'll remember the creepy NBC television series "Thriller," hosted by Boris Karloff. On Wednesday, Aug. 10, MCA/Uni-versal is releasing six episodes from that black-and-white, one-hour series at $12.98 each.

The episodes are:- "The Grim Reaper," starring William Shatner in a tale about a painting that depicts death and haunts an old woman's mansion.

- "The Incredible Doktor Markesan," starring Karloff in a story about the strange things that happen to guests when they leave their room in an old house.

- "The Terror of Teakwood," starring Guy Rolfe in a story about a woman who faces death in the dark.

- "The Prediction," with Karloff as a mentalist who tries to protect his assistant (Audrey Dalton) and her lover from the dark powers of fate.

- "Masquerade" features Elizabeth Montgomery and Tom Poston as two people who seek shelter on a dark and stormy night in the strange house of John Carradine.

- "The Premature Burial" has Patricia Medona as an unfaithful wife who is visited by a specter from beyond the grave.

MCA/Universal also is releasing six episodes each from the TV series "Columbo," "The Rockford Files" and "Magnum, P.I." at $14.98 apiece.

Each collection includes the pilot episodes of the three shows.

"Prescription Murder" stars Peter Falk as Columbo. The rumpled detective attempts to get the goods on a philandering psychiatrist who, with the aid of a girlfriend, does away with his wife. Also in the cast are Gene Barry, Nina Foch and William Windom.

"Backlash of the Hunter" stars James Garner in his first outing as offbeat private eye Jim Rockford. His first mission is to discover if a girl's father committed suicide or was murdered. The guest cast includes Lindsay Wagner and Joe Santos.

"Don't Eat the Snow in Hawaii" stars Tom Selleck as Magnum, a former Vietnam veteran turned private eye. In the opener, Magnum attempts to solve the mysterious death of an old buddy from the war. The familiar cast includes John Hillerman as Higgins, Roger Mosley as T.C. and Larry Manetti as Rick.


CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? - If you remember the '60s sitcom with any degree of fondness, you'll probably want to pass on this rather inane update. However, if you're a newcomer to the antics of officers Gunther Toody (David Johansen) and Francis Muldoon (John C. McGinley) you may want to give this a brief look - if for no other reason than the supporting cast which includes Rosie O'Donnell, Fran Drescher, David Baldwin, Nipsy Russel and Al Lewis reprising his role as Officer Leo Schnauzer from the original series. Orion Home Video, 89 minutes, rated PG-13.

- Richard T. Ryan

(Newhouse News Service)

BACK IN ACTION - When his partner is brutally murdered in a drug bust gone bad, Detective Frank Rossi (former pro-wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper) sets out to even the score. Things are complicated by the presence of Billy (Billy Blanks), a former Green Beret, who in trying to protect his sister from the same gang has turned into a vigilante. When Frank's girlfriend and Billy's sister are taken hostage, the two men form an uneasy alliance as they set out to free their loved ones. As far as martial arts films go, this is fairly standard stuff. MCA Home Video, 93 minutes, rated R.

- Richard T. Ryan

(Newhouse News Service)

WRESTLING ERNEST HEMINGWAY - A bittersweet story of two elderly and eccentric but very different senior citizens in a Florida retirement community who become friends by chance and, begrudgingly, benefit from it. Richard Harris is a flamboyant, often-married ex-sea captain still chasing women at 75. Robert Duvall is a shy, proper ex-Cuban barber who's much quieter, more predictable, his life orderly, mostly without women. Neither is big on friends and their relationship takes some getting used to, but eventually the captain tones down his act and the barber lets down his hair in a series of fairly humorous interludes. But, not all is funny and sunny - there is an underlying feeling of sadness here. Shirley MacLaine, Piper Laurie and Sandra Bullock play women who are more or less part of the boys' lives. 1993. 122 minutes. Warner Home Video. Rated PG-13.

- Jack Wilkinson

(United Press International)