Mike Lipton
November 02, 1998 12:00 PM

NBC (Fridays, 9 p.m. ET)

ER executive producer John Wells is a master at orchestrating the chaos in an emergency room. But not at the dinner table. In Wells’s new series, the close-knit McCallister clan, Irish-American New Yorkers, tend to banter so boisterously that it’s hard, at first, to sort them all out. Let’s see, there’s Fiona (Charlotte Ross), a Wall Street bond trader bailing out of a dead-end office romance. And Bobby (Justin Louis), a workaholic cop who spends more time with a fetching female partner than with his kvetching wife, Clarissa (Kim Raver). And Liam (Sam Trammell), a black sheep who fraternizes with wolves in a corrupt union local. Oh, and let’s not forget Amanda (Bonnie Root), an alcoholic teacher’s aide who can’t recall who got her pregnant.

What redeems these soap opera stereotypes is Trinity’s spirited, engaging young cast, none more beguiling than Tate Donovan as Kevin, the McCallister who became a priest. (You were expecting maybe a rabbi?) They’re ably backed by veterans John Spencer (L.A. Law) and Jill Clayburgh (An Unmarried Woman) as the parents. In short, this is a family that could grow on you. Just don’t invite ’em to dinner.

Bottom Line: A zesty mulligan stew

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