Loretta Swit - best known as Maj. Margaret Houlihan on "M.A.S.H." - gets as far away from that image as possible tonight in the made-for-TV movie Hell Hath No Fury (8 p.m., Ch. 2).
She's cast as a deranged murderess out for revenge."It's a bit of a departure for me, but that's what acting is all about," Swit said. "You get to be somebody totally different."
In "Fury," Swit's character believes she's been wronged by another woman (Barbara Eden) who stole her college boyfriend. She begins plotting a terrible revenge.
Eden's character is a suburban housewife whose world begins coming apart when her husband is killed - and she's questioned as a suspect. Then her best friend is murdered, and she's arrested for the killing.
Eden then suspects that her daughter will be the next victim.
"This script really hit me, whoof!" Swit said. "Every once in a while when I'm reading a script, I ask myself if I would watch this - and I would watch this."
Not that she found it particularly easy to play a homicidal maniac.
"It took a great deal of emotional energy," she said. "It was really gut-wrenching.
"I remember the crew after a particularly deadly kind of scene in more ways than one. One of them came up to me afterward and said, `I'd never mess around with you.' "
And even though her character is a killer she still found sympathy for her.
"I don't think of her as bad because she doesn't know she's sick," Swit said. "You have to play her as sane. She doesn't know what she's doing is wrong."
"Hopefully, we can find some compassion and understanding for her."
Not that it will be easy.
- ELSEWHERE ON THE TUBE: Kenny Rogers (as himself) visits the folks in Evening Shade (7 p.m., Ch. 5); Fox broadcasts the rather silly movie Earth Girls Are Easy (7 p.m., Ch. 13); Citizen Carter (7 p.m., Discovery) is an excellent documentary about our 39th president; and Sonny Bono makes an appearance on Blossom (7:30 p.m., Ch. 2).
Also, Cathy Podewell ("Dallas") stars in the fluffy Earth Angel (8 p.m., Ch. 4) as a prom queen killed in 1962 - but she returns as a spirit on a romantic mission.
The F.Y.I. gang is carpooling on Murphy Brown (8 p.m., Ch. 5); and Mary Jo has a one-night stand on Designing Women (8:30 p.m., Ch. 5).
And on a special airing of WIOU (9 p.m., Ch. 5), reporters go looking for the goriest stories they can find - and one of them ends up becoming the news when the staffer is murdered. (This episode was postponed by the outbreak of war in the Persian Gulf.)
- LOOKING TOWARD TUESDAY: A teenage girl's boyfriend becomes violent on a CBS Schoolbreak Special (3 p.m., Ch. 5) titled "But He Loves Me"; ABC airs a pair of episodes of Davis Rules (7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Ch. 4); and NBC reruns Red Heat (8 p.m., Ch. 2).