August 11, 2003 12:00 PM

Lifetime (Saturdays, 9 p.m. ET)

Zoe Busiek (Joely Fisher) has a whole lot on her plate in the Aug. 2 premiere of this improbable but diverting series. She quits her job as a Las Vegas blackjack dealer and returns to her Chicago-area hometown to raise the three children of her older sister, who was killed in a car crash. As if it weren’t hard enough for the single and hitherto irresponsible Zoe to play adult guardian, she’s also pounding the pavement in search of a paycheck and probing the fatal auto accident in hopes of convincing the insurance company that her sister wasn’t at fault. Impressed by Zoe’s Erin Brockovich-style moxie, the company winds up hiring her as a fraud investigator.

Fisher is winning as the spirited protagonist, even though the character’s multitasking strains credulity. This is a definite upgrade from her last series role as the mom on Baby Bob.

BOTTOM LINE: Pretty good hand

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