No matter how you turn it, 'Kaleidoscope' offers little

October 15, 1990|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

After more than a year of talking about plans to use Danielle Steel to lure women viewers away from CBS' telecast of the World Series, NBC abruptly changed plans. The network instead will run "Danielle Steel's 'Kaleidoscope' " at 9 tonight on WMAR-TV (Channel 2), even though the World Series does not start until tomorrow.

NBC last week declined to explain why it backed out of its much-trumpeted showdown with baseball. Network publicists said they did not know why the change was made, but promised to get a programming executive to explain. The explanation never came.

But an explanation probably will not be necessary for anyone who bothers to watch "Kaleidoscope." It is one of the most lifeless, aimless and uninspired television movies of the year.

"Kaleidoscope" is about a dying man -- attorney Arthur Patterson -- who hires a private detective to find and reunite three sisters he had placed in separate foster homes some 30 years before.

The three girls were separated after the death of their mother and father and have not seen each other since. Patterson was a friend of the girls' parents.

The private eye, John Chapman, is played by Perry King. The sisters -- Hilary, Alexandra and Meagan -- are played by Jaclyn Smith, Patricia Kalember and Claudia Christian, respectively.

King and Smith are, of course, the stars. They are also two of television's most limited actors. As hard as it might be to imagine, the sum of their work in 'Kaleidoscope" is less than the parts.

How careless a piece of work is "Kaleidoscope"?

Consider this. Outside of Smith and King, the largest role is that of the dying attorney, Patterson. Two actors are used to portray him. Donald Moffat plays Patterson as the old man. Ben Lemon plays the young Patterson seen in flashbacks.

But the two are not very similar in appearance. And not only don't they look much alike, their hair is parted on opposite sides. Granted the hair would have changed from blond to gray, but would the natural part change, too? And could the old man's hair be thicker than the young man's?

NBC comes back with another Danielle Steel production, "Fine Things," tomorrow night. That movie does go against the World Series. Let's hope they at least get the hair right.

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