October 19, 1998 12:00 PM

NBC (Sun., Oct. 18, 8 p.m. ET; Mon., Oct. 19, 9 p.m. ET)

Employing textbook counterprogramming strategy against a Sunday World Series game on FOX and ABC’s Monday Night Football, NBC is fielding this five-hour mini-series about six generations of a female-dominated family. Boy, they must think women viewers prefer any junk to jocks.

Some would consider Caroline in the City star Lea Thompson fortunate to look younger than her 37 years. But her girlish appearance gradually works against her in this drama, which requires her to simulate aging from 17 to 88. It doesn’t help that Thompson’s character, the socially conscious photo journalist at the center of the story, lacks credibility from the first snap of her shutter. She’s at her most bogus in the France of World War I (voice-over: “I was an eyewitness to man’s inhumanity to man”), where she comes upon a destroyed church and observes, “I guess nothing’s sacred anymore.” The Great War brings more disillusionment when Thompson learns that the dashing photographer (Dharma & Greg’s Thomas Gibson) who got her pregnant is married to another. And the relationship gets no easier two decades later. “It hurts so much. Why does it still hurt?” the weepy Thompson asks a friend. “Because it’s love,” the woman replies. “Love hurts.” Ouch.

Bottom Line: Summon the will to change the channel

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