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Trinity

And Spencer mostly smiles a lot.

With:
Eileen McCallister.....Jill Clayburgh Simon McCallister.....John Spencer Kevin McCallister.....Tate Donovan Bobby McCallister.....Justin Louis Liam McCallister.....Sam Trammell Clarissa McCallister.....Kim Raver Amanda McCallister.....Bonnie Root Fiona McCallister.....Charlotte Ross Trinity" continues one of the more improbable freshman series trends this fall primetime season, focusing on dysfunctional Irish-Catholic families and their intense blending of sinning and salvation (thank you, "The Brothers McMullen"). This sudsy hour comes from "ER" exec producer John Wells, and is so densely packed with chaos that the opener often resembles "ER" minus the scalpels as it frenetically depicts a trauma unit of a different sort. Potential seeps through the clutter of Michael Caton-Jones' premiere teleplay, but there is so much going on here that it's almost comical.Biggest name in the cast is the elegant actress Jill Clayburgh. She's Eileen, the world-weary matriarch of the loose-cannon, working-class, New York Hell's Kitchen-based McCallister clan and wife to the upstanding Simon (John Spencer). But Clayburgh is given virtually nothing to do through the opening two segs aside from the occasional sigh and whine.

And Spencer mostly smiles a lot.

But all heck breaks loose around them. Next to the McCallister kids, that other Irish-Catholic brood, the one named Kennedy, is low-key and obedient.

There are five McCallister siblings of varying levels of stability, all painted as unsubtle Irish-Catholic cliches: Bobby (Justin Louis), a tightly wound rookie NYPD detective in a struggling marriage; Liam (Sam Trammell), a union organizer in a crooked racket; Kevin (Tate Donovan), a priest who struggles with his conscience; “good” sister Fiona (Charlotte Ross), a high-achieving bond trader attracted to all the wrong men; and “bad” sister Amanda (Bonnie Root), a frightened,tortured drug addict and alcoholic. A sixth sibling died long ago, and we’re not sure why.

So much happens during the opening hour that it would almost save time merely to list what doesn’t happen. A marriage grows rocky. There’s an unwanted pregnancy. Philandering. Oath-breaking. Violations of pretty much every stripe. All of them seem to eat guilt for breakfast, condemnation for lunch and bitterness for dinner. And it’s nearly impossible to keep track of it all before we have even the faintest clue of who these people are and why they’re so chronically erratic.

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Of the cast, Root shines brightest as a woman who wears her hopelessness on her sleeve. And things improve overall somewhat for everyone in a much calmer second seg that allows storylines to build rather than turning them loose aimlessly to flail like so many headless chickens.

If “Trinity” can continue to settle down and allow its intriguing cast to evolve naturally, Wells and NBC may have a shot, despite a thankless Friday timeslot opposite ABC’s T.G.I.F. lineup, Fox’s “Millennium” and the irresistible new “Buddy Faro” on CBS. The jury needs more time to reach its verdict, however. Tech credits are solid.

Trinity

(DRAMA SERIES; NBC, FRI. OCT. 16, 9 P.M.)

Production: Filmed in New York City by John Wells Prods. in association with Warner Bros. TV. Executive producer, John Wells; co-executive producer, Lisa Melamed; producers, Natalie Chaidez, Brooke Kennedy, Kristin Harms; director, Michael Caton-Jones; writer, Matthew McNair Carnahan; production designer, Christopher Nowak.

Crew: Camera, Glenn Kershaw; editors, Doug Ibold, Axel Hubert; music, Martin Davich; sound, Curt Behlmer; casting, Barbara Miller, John Levey, Mark Saks. 60 MINS.

With: Eileen McCallister.....Jill Clayburgh Simon McCallister.....John Spencer Kevin McCallister.....Tate Donovan Bobby McCallister.....Justin Louis Liam McCallister.....Sam Trammell Clarissa McCallister.....Kim Raver Amanda McCallister.....Bonnie Root Fiona McCallister.....Charlotte Ross Trinity" continues one of the more improbable freshman series trends this fall primetime season, focusing on dysfunctional Irish-Catholic families and their intense blending of sinning and salvation (thank you, "The Brothers McMullen"). This sudsy hour comes from "ER" exec producer John Wells, and is so densely packed with chaos that the opener often resembles "ER" minus the scalpels as it frenetically depicts a trauma unit of a different sort. Potential seeps through the clutter of Michael Caton-Jones' premiere teleplay, but there is so much going on here that it's almost comical.Biggest name in the cast is the elegant actress Jill Clayburgh. She's Eileen, the world-weary matriarch of the loose-cannon, working-class, New York Hell's Kitchen-based McCallister clan and wife to the upstanding Simon (John Spencer). But Clayburgh is given virtually nothing to do through the opening two segs aside from the occasional sigh and whine.

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