The initial hour focuses largely on Devane's John Monroe, whose planned run for governor is scuttled by word that he had an affair 20 years earlier with a woman who turns out to have been a foreign spy. The revelation not only knocks him out of the race but also creates tension between the multimillionaire and his wife.

The initial hour focuses largely on Devane’s John Monroe, whose planned run for governor is scuttled by word that he had an affair 20 years earlier with a woman who turns out to have been a foreign spy. The revelation not only knocks him out of the race but also creates tension between the multimillionaire and his wife.

Devane brings necessary weight and grit to the role, and his experience both in a primetime soap (“Knots Landing”) and playing John F. Kennedy in “The Missiles of October” provides an indication of where “The Monroes” would like to go.

Unfortunately, the kids don’t measure up to their folks, instead proving to be a collection of cliches. The Monroe clan includes a philandering congressman (David Andrews) with a “dad likes you best” chip on his shoulder regarding his astronaut brother (Steven Eckholdt); a lawyer (Cecil Hoffmann) having an affair with some mysterious celeb; and two wayward younger children, a college-age son (Tristan Tait) struggling to meet expectations and a newlywed daughter (Tracy Griffith) on the verge of ending her marriage.

Writer-creator-exec producer Rick Kellard and director Rick Wallace offer a few nice moments that provide an inkling of what it might be like to live in the skin of the rich and famous.

Still, there’s not much steak here, and even less sizzle. Those factors should leave “The Monroes” duking it out with CBS’ new “New York News” for the Nielsen vote among older viewers.

The Monroes

(Tues. (12); 10-11 p.m.; ABC)

Production

Filmed in L.A. and Richmond, Va., by Rebelheart Prods. and Elliot Friedgen Co. in association with Warner Bros. TV. Executive producer, Rick Kellard; producer, Elliot Friedgen; associate producer, Laura Gibson; director, Rick Wallace; writer, Kellard; camera, Steven Bernstein; editor, William B. Stich; production designer, Robb Wilson King; music, W.G. (Snuffy) Walden. That isn't to say the concept is poorly executed, but launching such a show with virtually no lead-in presents an enormous chal-lenge. Plus, the series has moments but isn't particularly compelling beyond William Devane and Susan Sullivan as the family patriarch and matriarch.
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