August 31, 1992 12:00 PM

CBS (Wednesdays, 9 P.M. ET)

D+

Hold on to your hat. Here’s the Cliffs Notes version of this wild and woolly five-week potboiler: Lisa Hartman Black plays a recently retired prostitute who needs to lake on roommates in her lavish beach house. She gets a burned-out lawyer (Jennifer Beals) still grieving over the death of her fiancé, a spacey would-be young actress (Drew Barrymore) and her clingy, manipulative sister, and manager (Tuesday Knight), who calls everyone “honey bunny.”

Before they can even unpack, Barrymore and Beals have bagged chesty boyfriends (Brian Bloom of As the World Turns and Days of Our Lives’ Michael T. Weiss). Knight makes a bid for romance too, but the network executive she comes on to responds, “I think I’m gonna puke.” (He’s played by Scott Bryce of As the World Turns. Must have been a special on soap actors down at central casting.)

Hartman Black, of course, has had her fill of men, but I’m willing to wager she too has a love interest by the second episode. He’d better be a lawyer, because in last weekend’s two-hour pilot, Hartman Black got arrested for murder.

This is the ultimate California series—the real estate is sexier (and better lit) than the actors. The beach house, with its gauzy curtains billowing in the breeze, chandeliers, fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and shimmering pool, is opulent enough that even Aaron Spelling himself would feel comfortable here. (That’s not surprising. The ubiquitous Spelling exec-produced this baby.)

The plotting and dialogue are sappy. (Hartman Black on prostitution: “I was dirt-poor and hungry. I thought I could sell my body without selling my soul too. But it doesn’t work that way. So I’m getting out now while there’s still enough of me left to fight for something better in my life.”) And I can’t remember a series in which all the main characters are so forbiddingly unsympathetic. The only possible reason to tune in each week is to marvel at the next ludicrous plot twist.

For instance, it turns out Hartman Black wasn’t dirt-poor. In fact, she comes from a fabulously wealthy blue-blood family, making her the proverbial hooker with the card of gold. But who will pay her bail?

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