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SCIENCE FICTION TV SPECIAL IS FAST, FUN AND FASCINATING

SHARE SCIENCE FICTION TV SPECIAL IS FAST, FUN AND FASCINATING

There's a very good TV special about TV on TV tonight, which is relatively surprising.

What makes it almost shocking is that it airs on Fox.The Museum of Television & Radio presents "Science Fiction: A Journey Into the Unknown" (7 p.m., Ch. 13), a fast-paced, fascinating two-hour look at sci-fi through the years.

"Star Trek" veterans William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are the main hosts, ably assisted by "Lois & Clark" star Dean Cain and not-so-ably assisted by "Star Wars" star Carrie Fisher. (Her monotone begins to grate in a matter of seconds.)

And while "Star Trek" plays a prominent part in this retrospective, it's only one of many shows highlighted. Beginning with the Saturday morning space operas of the '50s and carrying all the way through to the current crop of shows, including "The X-Files" and "Babylon 5," this is a nearly exhaustive, yet entertaining jaunt through the genre.

And, in a nice diversion from what might be expected, this is not a chronological look at all of TV science fiction. Instead, the two-hour show has been broken down into various subjects - including space travel, robots, alternate universes, aliens and time travel - and compares how the subjects have been handled through the years.

The producers and writers have done an outstanding job of Readers Digest-ing entire episodes of series into but a few minutes - episodes of everything from the various "Star Treks" to "Lost in Space," "The Twilight Zone," "Outer Limits" and many more.

They've even taken the entire run of "The Prisoner" (which aired in the summers of 1968 and 1969) and distilled it into a short segment that catches the flavor and hits the high points.

Even the casual science fiction fan will find "A Journey Into the Unknown" a fun ride. And for the devotees, make sure you've got a blank videotape on hand and set those VCRs.

And here's hoping the Museum of Television & Radio keeps turning out specials like this.

CANCELLATION TIME: "The Suzanne Somers Show," which airs locally on weekday mornings on KJZZ-Ch. 14, has gotten the axe. It will go off the air in February, a victim of low ratings and bad distribution.

(It airs in only about 55 percent of the country.)

While the loss of the ditzy Somers is no great loss at all, it is too bad that a light, celebrity-intervie-driven hour couldn't compete with the smarmier likes of Oprah and Ricki and Phil and Sally.

Somers, however, did nothing to erase her image as a dumb blonde. The most attention she received for her attempt to be a chat-show host was when she said, "Let's see . . . so she's artificially inseminated with his egg?" while discussing surrogate pregnancy.

QUOTABLE: Bill Maher, host of "Politically Incorrect" on Comedy Central: "Here's what I don't get about the new Star Trek movie `Generations.' Tell me that two hundred years from now we can beam people up and down, travel at many times the speed of light and harness the power of anti-matter but we still haven't found a cure for baldness."