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NBC'S `SISTERS' SIGNS OFF - AND NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON

Only on "Sisters" could one of the characters have more to do after she dies than before.

After all, this prime-time soap opera has spent the last five and a half seasons - a total of 127 episodes, including the send-off - with various younger incarnations of the main characters popping up at all times and in all circumstances - an affectation that ran thin about five seasons ago.But we come today not to criticize "Sisters" (much) but to bury it. Tonight's two-hour episode (8 p.m., Ch. 5) is the end for the series. And, true to form, there are plenty of histrionics to go around.

At the top of the list are the events surrounding the death of the "Sisters" mother, Bea (Elizabeth Hoffman), who suffers a stroke and lingers through the first hour before giving up the ghost. But she's back shortly thereafter as a ghost, dispensing advice to her various daughters (as well as to her late husband's illegitimate daughter).

It's a real highlight when she slaps Alex (Swoozie Kurtz) - hard. It's something that Alex has had coming for years.

But Bea's death is only the center point for various other crises. Teddy (Sela Ward) and her husband, Sorenson (Stephen Collins), learn that their unborn child may have a birth defect. Georgie (Patricia Kalember) gets an `A' on her masters' thesis, which is an expose on all of her sisters' lives. And a publisher wants to turn it into a book.

Charley (Sheila Kelley) and Alex instantly threaten to sue to stop publication.

Alex is getting ready to move out of town, and she's particularly incensed when she discovers that Bea named her half-sister, Charley, as executrix of her will. And Frankie (Julianne Phillips, who returns nearly a year after leaving the show) rushes home from Japan just in time to see her mother die - and to see that life has gone on without her.

As usual, a lot of this is pretty over-the-top. There's the screaming and yelling and crying that has become a trademark of "Sisters" over the years.

There are some hurried happy endings - no one will be surprised at what happens when Georgie's ex-husband (Garrett M. Brown) shows up at Bea's funeral and rekindles some old feelings.

And, of course, there's an all-out effort to make fans of the series shed a few tears in the show's final moments.

It's those longtime fans who will want to be sure to tune in. If you've stuck with "Sisters" - through all of the high drama and low comedy, high comedy and low drama - through the years, tonight is a payoff of sorts. Just be sure to bring your hankies.

If you're not a fan, there's no need to watch - unless you're looking for an unintentional laugh or two.

There's no tragedy in "Sisters' " demise. All TV series have a natural life span, and the ones that try to linger when they've run their course aren't much use to anyone.

And a case could certainly be made that "Sisters" has already outlived its usefulness by at least a year.

CARR GOES TO WEEKENDS: KSL has found itself a new weekend anchorwoman.

Now, the search has begun for a new weekday morning anchorwoman.

Gretchen Carr is moving on up, taking over as Keith McCord's weekend co-anchor on Saturday, May 18. She'll replace Jane Clayson, whose last day at Ch. 5 will be Sunday, May 12.

(Clayson, of course, is headed for a job as a correspondent with ABC News.)

Which leaves KSL News Director Ray Carter looking for a morning replacement for Carr. Fortunately, his search for a weekend anchorwoman "turned up several good prospects," so an announcement on who'll be sitting next to Nick Toma in the mornings should be forthcoming shortly.

ALSO COMING FROM KSL: Our friends at the Eyewitness News are about to unveil another change - a new weathercasting system, due to be unveiled on Monday, May 13.

The $110,000 system will feature a "full-screen weather graphic" and various other doo-dads and gadgets.

Should be fun - Mark Eubank will probably be positively giddy.