April 30, 2007 12:00 PM

ABC (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)

BY TOM GLIATTO

DRAMA

This series, recently renewed for a second season, seemed like a total loser to me when it premiered. A drama about the well-off Walker family, it stuffed in too many preeningly articulate characters (five adult children, one widowed mom), and among them were two fusspot actresses (Sally Field and Calista Flockhart) who might be expected to flutter at each other like moths in a mirror. But the show has developed into a solid soap that really catches fire. Special credit goes to two actors who surprise us by mining mature, wry humor from the show’s melodrama. Their names are, yes, Sally Field, facing the messiness of widowhood with sweetness and steel, and Calista Flockhart as her prominent conservative daughter. She’s now in a relationship with a Republican senator played by Rob Lowe. Flockhart’s nibbly, wide-eyed anxiousness plays well off Lowe’s thin-lipped directness. This could be you, Ann Coulter!

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