CBS (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET)
At the center of this Manhattan-based serial from Melrose Place creator Darren Star is a flawed if fabulously wealthy family: the Fairchilds. The clan’s Prince Charming (dashingly played by John Barrowman) is a virtuous, hardworking assistant DA who keeps getting distracted by women who swoon in his path. His sister (Mädchen Amick) is a very different kettle of piranha. Amick is sharpening her claws for the new editor (Mariel Hemingway) at Communique, the upscale magazine where Amick pulls down $200,000 a year as the nightlife columnist. Just for spite, she sets out to seduce Hemingway’s hubby (Tom Verica), a failed novelist. While Amick feasts on her bad-girl role, Hemingway makes for a bland side dish: as a hard-charging executive, she’s unbelievably vacuous.
Other roles are ably filled by Michael Michele, Justin Lazard, Kylie Travis (a former Models Inc. vixen who sashays into the third episode), Ron Leibman and Lauren Hutton (who also has her own syndicated talk show starting this fall).
The tone of Central Park West is so facile, glossy and brittle that its visual style often resembles some frosty Eurotrash perfume commercial. But the first episodes hit the ground sprinting—and that alone makes CPW an inviting address to visit.