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In the Heat of the Night Dangerous Engagement

Close to finishing off its seventh season and already filming its eighth, "In the Heat of the Night" begins to lag as Carroll O'Connor's Gillespie and Denise Nicholas' black councilwoman Harriet DeLong plan their marriage; the episode settles for a routine cop meller.

Cast:
Cast: Carroll O'Connor, Carl Weathers, Alan Autry, David Hart, Hugh O'Connor, Crystal Fox, Denise Nicholas, Dee Shaw, Harvey E. Lee Jr., Mark Johnson, Chris McCarty, Liam Gannon, Ron Culbreth, Michael Mattison, Bill Crabb, Annie-Jo Edwards, Martha Burgess, Robin McLamb-Vaughn, Chris Elwood, Tai Bennett, Renee Cline, Donna Child.

Close to finishing off its seventh season and already filming its eighth, “In the Heat of the Night” begins to lag as Carroll O’Connor’s Gillespie and Denise Nicholas’ black councilwoman Harriet DeLong plan their marriage; the episode settles for a routine cop meller.

It seems someone is trying to kill DeLong and, because a redneck splatters egg on her car, she assumes the would-be assassin is angry at her for marrying a white man.

But the ill-advised sniper (Chris McCarty) is thinking revenge, not racial relations: Gillespie’s the fill-in sheriff for the man who once put away the killer’s daddy.

Though adequately acted and directed (by Vince McEveety), the plot suffers from old-hatness. The suspense is bearable as Mitchell Schneider’s teleplay follows the paths of Gillespie, DeLong and the killer, who knocks off two victims.

Program still has O’Connor, who seems to be soft-pedaling Gillespie. Nicholas is luminous, and McCarty’s stalker looks sufficiently mean.

Location filming in Georgia hands the series a good touch of realism. (“Heat, ” originally filmed in Louisiana, filmed an episode or two in L.A. several years ago but has otherwise done its filming over the past six years in Covington.)

Series holds its own in the ratings but promises little new. With ABC’s “Home Improvement” and “These Friends of Mine” soaking up the Nielsens, “Heat of the Night” needs energy.

Tech credits are fine.

In the Heat of the Night Dangerous Engagement

(Wed. (4), 9-10 p.m., CBS)

Production: Filmed in Covington, Ga., by Fred Silverman Co., Juanita Bartlett Prods. and MGM Worldwide TV Group. Exec producers, Carroll O'Connor, Fred Silverman; supervising producer, Ed Ledding; producer, Joe Gannon; co-producers, Herb Adelman, Victoria LaFortune; director, Vince McEveety; writer, Mitchell Schneider; developed for TV by James Lee Barrett; based on characters in novel by John Ball.

Crew: Camera, Charles Mills; editor, Dick Darling; production designer, Al Rohm; sound, Maury Harry; music, Joe Sherman.

Cast: Cast: Carroll O'Connor, Carl Weathers, Alan Autry, David Hart, Hugh O'Connor, Crystal Fox, Denise Nicholas, Dee Shaw, Harvey E. Lee Jr., Mark Johnson, Chris McCarty, Liam Gannon, Ron Culbreth, Michael Mattison, Bill Crabb, Annie-Jo Edwards, Martha Burgess, Robin McLamb-Vaughn, Chris Elwood, Tai Bennett, Renee Cline, Donna Child.

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