NBC saves bad shows for last

Friday, October 16, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Three down, three to go.

Three sitcoms have been canceled -- The Brian Benben Show, Holding the Baby and Costello -- before the last three new fall shows hit the airwaves.

Trinity and Bo Derek's Wind on Water, NBC's final two additions, premiere today and Saturday, respectively.

By the time Fox's Brimstone debuts next Friday -- the 36th and last new fall series -- how many other shows will be gone?

Here are previews of two that at best, might last till December:

Trinity (9 p.m. today, Channels 5, 22): Our TV choices often come down to one simple question: Do we really want these people in our house?

When it comes to Friday night, after a long hard week, most of us will opt for escapist fun -- CBS' hip Buddy Faro or ABC's Sabrina, the Teenage Witch -- over Trinity, NBC's dark McCallister family soap.

We all have enough problems, without becoming involved with this dysfunctional Irish-Catholic family filled with cliche characters:

  • Liam, the union organizer (Tony Award nominee Sam Trammell) squeezing contractors for a kickback to his boss, who has mob connections.

  • Kevin, the young sexy priest (Tate Donovan from Hercules), a poor imitation of Kevin Anderson's role on ABC's short-lived Nothing Sacred.

  • Fiona, the smart stockbroker (Charlotte Ross from The Five Mrs. Buchanans) who has made a dumb choice in men: a married co-worker.

  • Bobby, the police detective (Justin Louis) who is obsessed with the death of his teen-age brother eight years ago.

  • Amanda, the baby sister (Bonnie Root) whose partying may cost her a teaching job at her brother's parish school.

    Exhausted already, aren't you?

    NBC wants you to think that Trinity is a richly textured, deeply layered drama in the tradition of Hill Street Blues or A Year in the Life. But it's too dark, too complicated, too inconclusive -- and too slow.

    NBC will be patient with creator John Wells (ER), who makes them millions. But Trinity doesn't have a prayer unless the pace picks up. As Bobby's no-nonsense boss tells him tonight: "Life is an endless tapestry of disappointment." So is Trinity.

    Wind on Water (8 p.m. Saturday, Channels 5, 22): Bo Derek makes her TV series debut in a laughable drama about a Hawaiian mother of two world-class surfers (William Gregory Lee, Brian Gross) fighting eviction by their nasty neighbor (Lee Horsley). Think of this as Dallas with an ocean view.

    The first broadcast series by soft-porn producer Zalman King (Red Shoe Diaries, 9 1/2 Weeks) is filled with beautiful vistas and close-ups of the hard-body surfer dudes in action.

    Unfortunately, the script is as skimpy as a Speedo. The Connolly kids enter a $60,000 surfing contest to win the cash Mom needs to keep the family farm.

    Some will tune in just to see if Ms. Derek, in her early 40s, is the perfect 10 they remember from her famous film 20 years ago. (Close enough.)

    They'll tune out the trite talk: "I just want what's best for you . . . That's the cost of doing business . . . Be careful what you ask for, boy."

    But the best line comes from the Wind on Water summer press conference with TV critics, not the actual show. When asked about Ms. Derek playing his mother, Mr. Gross replied: "I really didn't know who she was before this show. I mean, my dad and my grandpa sure did."

    Wind on Water should blow over soon. Channel surf right past this one.

    John Kiesewetter is Enquirer TV/radio critic. Write him at 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, 45202.