Becoming closely identified with a television character is both a blessing and a curse for actors.

It's a blessing, of course, because it makes the actor rich and famous.It's a curse because it's often difficult to escape that image and play other kinds of characters.

For many TV viewers, Ed O'Neill has become Al Bundy on "Married . . . With Children" over the past five seasons. And there aren't many more broadly drawn characters than Al.

Which makes tonight's telemovie Where's Jenny? (8 p.m., Ch. 4) a very pleasant surprise. O'Neill steps completely out of character to give a fine performance as a father fighting to be reunited with his daughter.

"Where's Jenny?" tells the tale of Jimmy O'Meara, a divorced dad and owner of a neighborhood bar. When his ex-wife's new husband is arrested for drug dealing, the couple and Jimmy's daughter disappear into the federal witness-protection program.

All the more disturbing because it's based on a true story, the real bad guys here are supposed to be the good guys - government officials. Mike Farrell ("M.A.S.H.") also steps far away from his good-guy image to play a heartless U.S. attorney more interested in his own power than common decency.

It's worth watching - or taping.

And don't forget - the first four hours of the new Dark Shadows (8 p.m., Ch. 2) continue with Daphne rising from her grave and Dr. Hoffman proposing a medical cure to Barnabas.

Elsewhere, KUTV provides live coverage of women's gymnastics (7 p.m., Ch. 2) with the Smith's Challenge Cup from the Huntsman Center at the U.; Peter Jennings hosts an ABC News Special (7 p.m., Ch. 4) about the Persian Gulf crisis; The American Experience (7 p.m., Ch. 7) presents "Roots of Resistence: A Story of the Underground Railroad"; Major Dad (7:30 p.m., Ch. 5) has to make it up to Gunny after breaking one of her prized possessions; Murphy Brown (8 p.m., Ch. 5) is afraid she's going to lose Eldin after his artwork is "discovered"; and Anthony has to stand up to a bully on Designing Women (8:30 p.m., Ch. 5).

- LOOKING TOWARD TUESDAY: A timely installment of Frontline (7 p.m., Ch. 7) looks at how the United States has been brought "To the Brink of War"; the top two teams in the NBA's Midwest Division meet in the Salt Palace - Jazz vs. Spurs (7:30 p.m., Ch. 13); a wedding is planned in the conclusion of a two-part Roseanne (8 p.m., Ch. 4); The Presidio (8 p.m., Ch. 5) makes its network premiere; and there's a cop-killer on the loose on Law & Order (9 p.m., Ch. 2).