Nonfiction dominates the air tonight


It's a good night for nonfiction, with "Turning Point," "48 Hours" and a PBS "Frederick Douglass" documentary all deserving of attention. Other than "Roseanne," though, it's a nongood night for fiction.

* "Babylon 5" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 20) -- Career downward trajectory, Exhibit A: Bruce Boxleitner, replacing an actor with even less emotional range, takes over as the new captain of "Babylon 5," a syndicated sci-fi series launching its second season tonight. I'd give more details, but I don't want to "Babylon."

* "Beverly Hills, 90210" (8 p.m.-9 p.m., Channel 45) -- For weeks, this series has been showing Dylan (Luke Perry) spinning out of control. Tonight, the descent reaches its nadir, as he and his "90210" buddies square off, and someone winds up in a coma. Fox.

* "Roseanne" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 13) -- This series has done more than its share of provocative casting over the years, such as Sandra Bernhard and Mariel Hemingway as lesbians, and Martin Mull as Roseanne's gay boss. Tonight there's another eyebrow-raising guest star: Traci Lords, a former porn star who has since appeared in such mainstream entertainment as "Wiseguy" and "Stephen King's The Tommyknockers." ABC.

* "Touched By an Angel" (9 p.m.-10 p.m., Channel 11) -- Career downward trajectory, Exhibit B: Peter Scolari, once co-star with Tom Hanks on "Bosom Buddies," now appears as a guest star on this sappy series. CBS.

* "Frederick Douglass: When the Lion Wrote History" (9 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Channels 22, 67) -- Charles S. Dutton of "Roc" provides the "voice" of Douglass, and Alfre Woodard supplies narration, in this new biography of the eloquent abolitionist from Orlando Bagwell, whose impressive credits include "Eyes on the Prize" and "Malcolm X: Make It Plain." PBS.

* "Turning Point" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., Channel 13) -- Michel McQueen lands a rare interview with Anita Hill in tonight's special edition of "Turning Point," which includes interviews with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Also interviewed: the authors of "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas." ABC.

* "48 Hours" (10 p.m.-11 p.m., Channel 11) -- "Treating Pain," produced by Brett Alexander and anchored by Dan Rather, deals with everything from ordinary migraines to extraordinary medical conditions (including a young girl who literally feels no pain). Watch and you'll learn; don't watch, and you know the result. No "Pain," no gain. CBS.


* "The Cool Surface" (10 p.m.-11:30 p.m., MAX) -- In this sexy 1993 drama, the surface is all that's cool. "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" star Teri Hatcher, in particular, is super-hot.

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