Lovers of comedy and dance have some treats in store this weekend - the debut of ``The Simpsons'' on Fox and comedy specials on cable, while PBS airs the Joffrey Ballet's heralded re-creation of the original ``Rite of Spring'' and ``The Hans Christian Anderson Ballet Awards.''
``The Simpsons,'' an animated cartoon family created by Matt Groening, got its start on Fox's ``Tracey Ullman Show'' as a kind of intermission feature between skits. ``The Simpsons'' is a lot more fun when the show's creators can utilize 30 minutes and a story line.
``The Simpsons'' - Homer and Marge and their three children, Bart, Lisa and Baby Maggie - can best be described as a cartoon version of family life as depicted by live actors in ``Roseanne'' and ``Married . . . With Children.'' With their garish cartoon colors and outrageous points of view, they're definitely a family for the '90s. And since ``The Simpsons,'' which will premiere at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow on Channel 13, will serve as a lead-in to ``Married . . . with Children,'' which moves to 9 p.m. Sundays, it's likely this new series will be a hit. It is replacing Fox's ``Totally Hidden Video,'' which moves to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays on Channel 13, starting tonight.
Showtime has another Jonathan Winters special premiering (at 10 tonight on cable) in which he mainly serves to introduce other variety acts, most of which are not very good, except for Japanese comedienne Tamayo Otsuki, who brings a fresh Asian feminist point of view to bear on contemporary life - a kind of Japanese Joan Rivers. Showtime repeats the program Jan. 17, 23 and 28.
Louie Anderson gets his second HBO special, ``Comedy on Canvas,'' premiering at 10 tonight on cable, and it's an exciting program because Anderson shows he's using his comic material - his comments on his childhood home life and growing up - to provide funny, pithy insights into hunting, drugs, homeless, and health care, to name just a few of the topics he touches upon.
Unlike most contemporary comics who are only scatalogical or bitter or trying to be outrageous, Anderson shows, in his newest outing, he has what it takes for the long haul. HBO repeats this hour Jan. 16, 21, 25, 29 and 31.
More comedy: Gary Kroeger, formerly of ``Saturday Night Live,'' is now the host of Fox's ``Comic Strip Live,'' which airs at midnight Saturday nights on Channel 13. Cable's A&E has introduced a lively new comedy series, ``Caroline's Comedy Hour,'' hosted by Carol Leifer and featuring many of the same young comics who turn up on other comedy shows. This one can be seen at 8 p.m. Sundays. Cable's VH-1 has a ``Comedy Pictures'' special, featuring short films done by comics, and hosted by Robert Klein, at 5 p.m. tomorrow, repeated at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Toeing the mark: The Joffrey Ballet's ``Rite of Spring,'' airing a 10 a.m. tomorrow on Channel 9, is a ``Dance in America'' program that is part dance, part detective story. The first half of the hour tells the colorful history of the premiere of the original ``Rite,'' choreographed by Nijinsky in 1913 and launched amid great controversy, and of the efforts to re-create that choreography by the late Robert Joffrey for his company, with the help of, among others, Marie Rambert, who danced in the original.
The second half of the hour shows us the re-creation, danced to Stravinsky's score, now considered one of the 20th century's musical masterpieces. But because the first half of the program is so intriguing, we're able to imagine how that first ``Rite of Spring'' must have assaulted the eyes and ears of that Paris audience. It's a splendid hour for dance fans.
So is ``The Hans Christian Andersen Ballet Awards'' tomorrow at 11 a.m on Channel 9 and 9 p.m. on Channel 28. Even though this program was taped a couple of years ago, the dancing is superb as duos from several companies, including the Bolshoi, Peking Ballet and American Ballet Theater, compete. Sylvie Guillem of the Paris Opera and Irek Mukhamedov of the Bolshoi are sensational - and the program finishes with a flourish as the Royal Danish Ballet performs the Tarantella from ``Napoli.''
Video notes: A new syndicated music series, ``Dionne & Friends,'' starring Dionne Warwick, debuts at 8 tonight on Channel 22. . . . PBS' ``In Remembrance of Martin'' airs at 1 p.m. today on Channel 28 and 11 tonight on Channel 9. . . . Cable's TBS airs ``The Martin Luther King Jr., National Holiday Parade'' at 10:05 a.m. Monday. . . . Channel 28 begins airing the new season - its third - of PBS' ``DeGrassi High'' at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, with each episode repeated at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays. . . . Three new TV movies (none available for previewing) air tomorrow: ABC's ``Jury Duty: The Comedy'' at 9 p.m. on Channel 4; NBC's ``Exile'' at 7 p.m.; and ``Without Her Consent'' at 9 p.m., but the best bet is CBS' ``Pair of Aces,'' at 9 p.m. tomorrow on Channel 7 and reviewed in Sunday's TV Times. . . . ABC premieres a new series, ``America's Funniest Home Videos,'' at 8 p.m. tomorrow on Channel 4, moving ``Free Spirit'' to 8:30 p.m. Sundays. . . . Cable's ACE Awards, the cable counterpart of the Emmy Awards, are being handed out at 5 p.m. tomorrow on TBS, TNT, AMC, Lifetime and Discovery channels. . . . Debbie Harry, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis and Robert Cray are among the guests on ``Night Music'' airing at 1:30 a.m. tomorrow on Channel 5, immediately after NBC's ``Saturday Night Live,'' at midnight on Channel 5, when Ed O'Neill hosts and Harry Connick Jr., will be the musical guest. . . . NBC airs the sixth annual ``Soap Opera Awards'' at 2 p.m. Monday on Channel 5.
John Voorhees' column appears daily in The Times.