`Sliders' back for 5th season

TV: New characters in the cast join those who bounce from dimension to dimension on the Sci-Fi channel.

June 09, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

"Sliders," the sci-fi series that refuses to die, returns for a fifth season at 9 p.m. Friday on Cable's Sci-Fi channel, with a new twist on the old "How do you explain away the disappearance of former cast members?" dilemma.

Within the show's first segment, two of our inter-dimensional time travelers, Quinn and Colin, are apparently blasted into a couple of thousand light shards while moving from one dimension to the next. What emerges is a whole new character who says his name is Mallory and who's apparently got Quinn inside of him somewhere.

Sure is a strange world these sliders live in.

The show, which made its debut on Fox in 1995, traces the comings and goings of a band of southern Californians who spend their days bouncing from dimension to dimension. They're always in the same place, and it's always the same time (they keep repeating the same period over and over again), but the circumstances are never the same twice. One time, they may slide into a seemingly idyllic existence where drugs keep everyone happy; another time, they may find themselves a few minutes away from Armageddon.

Tonight's season-opener introduces a new bad guy in the form of Dr. Geiger, who's similarly unstuck dimension-wise but who's desperate to stop sliding from place to place. And he's willing to do anything to stay in one place, even if his plan could mean the death of a few billion people. That's what the doc's up to tonight when our heroes happen upon him and his nefarious intentions.

The returning cast members are Cleavant Derricks, as R&B singer Rembrandt Brown (How cool is that? Name another series that features an R&B singer named Rembrandt), and Kari Wuhrer as Maggie Beckett (promotional materials describe her as "sexy but tough"). New to the show are Robert Floyd as Mallory and Tembi Locke as Geiger's unwitting assistant, Diana Davis.

As with many sci-fi series, the characters tend to get a little bogged down with jargon. Says Mallory: "The dimensional compression that could lead to a recombinant universe would cause some form of elemental collapse on a cosmic scale." Well, duh.

But hey, everyone seems to be having fun, and the "new world every episode" scenario allows the series' writers the liberty to throw in all manner of twists (next week's episode opens with a little girl walking up to one of the sliders and saying, "Hi, mommy").

And, of course, there's always the danger of that dimensional compression. Oh my.

Tonys took ratings beating

The poor Tonys. First the producers of "It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues" call in the lawyers after watching in in horror as their production number was cut from Sunday's telecast. And now it appears the ratings fell more than 10 percent from last year.

In overnight figures from the country's 45 biggest cities, the Tony Awards' rating was 7.9 for the portion of the show broadcast on CBS (the first part was shown on PBS). That was down from a 10.3 rating last year, when "The Lion King" and "Ragtime" battled it out for best musical.

The year before, the first time with Rosie O'Donnell as the host, the broadcast hit an 11.2 rating. This year, a roster of entertainers served as hosts. Each overnight rating point represents 598,000 homes.

WIYY team wins honors

Kirk, Mark & Lopez of WIYY-FM (97.9) have been picking up some trophy hardware of late.

The morning-show duo has already been lauded as the Best Local Morning Show for 1998 by the trade publication Friday Morning Quarterback (which also named WIYY Active Rock Station of the Year). They're also up for Personality of the Year honors among Active Rock stations, to be awarded this weekend at Radio & Records magazine's annual Industry Achievement Awards (WIYY's Rob Heckman is up for Music Director of the Year).

Other local stations up for awards from Radio & Records this weekend are WERQ-FM (92.3), Station of the Year and Program Director (Tom Calococci) among Contemporary Hits Radio/Rhythmic stations; Cathy Hughes of Radio One, overall Group Executive of the Year; and WHFS-FM (99.1), Music Director of the Year (Pat Ferrise) among Alternative stations.

TCI adds Jazz Channel

BET on Jazz: The Jazz Channel, the only cable channel devoted exclusively to jazz, has been added to TCI's digital lineup on Channel 481.

Offerings on the three-year-old channel include "Jazz Central," an in-studio concert series with hosts Lou Rawls and Ramsey Lewis; "Jazz Discovery," a showcase for new talent; "Uncut," featuring hourlong performances with no interruptions; "Bluesman," Canada's down-home blues; "Grooves," one-on-one interviews with jazz artists; "Esta Noches Jazz," highlighting Mexican jazz musicians; and "New Morning Anniversary," featuring jazz from Paris.

Pub Date: 6/09/99

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