August 31, 1998 12:00 PM

Sci-Fi Channel (Mondays, 10 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

To launch a science-fiction anthology series is to dare comparisons with The Twilight Zone. Happily, Welcome to Paradox is not unworthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as Rod Serling’s classic show. The weekly dramas, all based on short stories, are set in Betaville, a future city filled with ultrahigh technology and perennial human unhappiness. The series got off to an uncertain start Aug. 17 with the murky tale of a psychic cop (Steven Bauer) investigating a possibly murderous hologram of the Virgin Mary. But the Aug. 31 entry is a solid prison drama that casts Ice-T as a latter-day Cool Hand Luke defying a system in which the “biochip” implant has replaced the ball and chain. The show improves further with the clever Sept. 7 episode, starring A Martinez as an old-fashioned private eye whose milieu of bars, babes and bullets may be only virtually real. The most potent Paradox hour we have seen is a still-unscheduled drama called “The Girl Who Was Plugged In,” with The Nanny’s Nicholle Tom as a manufactured celebrity remote-controlled by marketing wizards. But who needs Michael Philip (The Bold and the Beautiful) as the magisterial host? Sorry to say, he’s no Rod Serling.

Bottom Line: Makes the future look intriguing

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