By Elaine Showalter
Updated December 09, 1996 12:00 PM

Fox (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET)


This series about five great-looking, orphaned siblings has won a devoted audience since its 1994 debut. Now the Salinger kids are growing up to resemble the tormented characters of novelist J.D. Salinger (no relation). Big brother Charlie (Matthew Fox) has to cope with his fiancée’s breakdown; lovable Bailey (Scott Wolf) is a college freshman with a seductive, disturbed roommate (Alexondra Lee); sensitive Julia (Neve Campbell) is applying to college but scared to leave home; and chipmunk-voiced kid sister Claudia (Lacey Chabert) is an adolescent sage with an advice column in the school paper. Only baby Owen, age 3, escapes the family angst. So far. Party’s fresh-faced young stars are still worth watching, but the show’s focus on the family’s closeness has inevitably weakened as the kids fall in love or move away. Meanwhile, poor Charlie has to stay single or we’ll wind up watching Party of Six.