NEC's "Sweepstakes," a new hourlong comedy-drama series, also premieres tonight, at 10 on Channel 4, but this program's fatal flaw is nothing more odious than wanton mediocrity. It's the poor man's "Fantasy Island," and no man should be that poor.
Each show tells of three finalists in in a $1-million state lottery and attempts to engage us in the straits and narrows of their lives. On the premiere, Herschel Bernardi plays No. 232467, a bumbling gambler; Frederick Forrest plays 273698, an aspiring dogooder politician; and Adrienne Barbeau plays 777777, a free spirit so confused that she considers marrying an excruciating bore played with typecast perfection by Bernie "Love Boat" Kopell.
You'll never guess who wins because you wouldn't bother.
The only continuing character is Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, making a tiny comeback and looking now as though he could not only lend you his comb, but also his hair. The program comes from the Miller-Milkis factory at Paramount; fittingly, it's about as much fun as eight hours on an assembly line riveting spigots.
Each program opens with shots of money flying down from the sky while a helium chorus sings, "Without a dream inside of you, there is no dream to have come true." Network executives and Hollywood producers should be more careful not to mistake their dreams for those of normal people.