Everything about the show seems as familiar as your second cup of morning coffee, as comfortable as your favorite pair of worn-out slippers.
Billed by the network as a "fantasy adventure," the program conjures up images of hit shows past ("The Millionaire" of the 50s) and present ("Fantasy Island").
Stars Ben Murphy and Marshall Colt are both veterans of previous series.
Channel 6 will carry the program, starting with a special 90 minute premiere episode tonight at 7. Next Friday, it will move into its regular one-hour time period at 8 p.m.
"LOTTERY" TELLS fanciful tales of big-money winners in a fictionious international sweepstakes. Murphy plays Patrick Flaherty, the agent who delivers the prize-money, and Colt is Eric Rush, an employee of the Internal Revenue Service, who tags along to remind the winners that Uncle Sam wants to share in their new-found joy.
Murphy has been in numerous TV roles, but he's probably best remembered as Thaddeus Jones in the western series, "Alias Smith and Jones."
Colt co-starred last year as James Arness' sidekick in "McClain's Law."
In "Lottery," the sweepstakes is called the Intersweep Lottery, although if you prefer to think of it as the Irish Sweepstakes, the producers probably won't mind.
Just to help you out, they occasionally have Murphy's speech pattern assume an Irish lift, although it's strictly a matter of convenience.
As tonight's show is getting underway, Murphy arrives in America and tries out his Irish charm on an attractive airport employee. But when Colt comes along and interrupts the effort, Murphy's accent disappears.
"MY BROGUE is my inheritance, not to be squandered lightly," Murphy comments.
Colt and Murphy seem to have found with their characters' give-and-take relationship, and they display a fine flair for tongue-in-cheek humor.
As with "Fantasy Island," the show will have a variety of stories intertwined in each episode, but unlike "Island," it does not rely on big-name guests to carry it through.
It's to "Lottery's" credit that tonight's outing manages to be enjoyable without benefit of any major guest stars. Featured are stories of three major lottery winners.
1. A slightly retarded young man who doesn't really understand what winning a lottery means, and doesn't care very much.
2. A woman police officer who is widowed and is raising her young son by herself.
3. A middle-aged man who mistakenly thinks that Colt is after him because he failed to pay some income tax a few years ago.
THE FIRST story is easily the most absorbing. Christopher McDonald does a nice job as the retarded man, Peter Moreno, whose sister and scheming finance try to divert his winnings to themselves. When Colt and Murphy explain the situation to him, his only concern is whether his sister still loves him.
"I'm sure she does," says Murphy. "But sometimes money confuses people."
Moreno responds, "I don't want her to be confused. Can't you just give her the money?"
The story of the police officer is the thinnest of the group. She ultimately decides that she and her son will use her winnings to travel the world.
AND THE third tale is strictly for laughs. As he's headed out the door in search of a hiding place, the would-be millionaire tells his dumpish wife, "I shouldn't have listened to your brother-in-law about those tax deductions. If they catch me, it means hard time, pounding rocks." He spends the entire episode trying to dodge Murphy's attempts to make him rich.
Obviously the producers of "Lottery" have a sense of humor, and they're going to need it.
When all the networks have their shows
in place of the fall, "Lottery" will be playing opposite
CBS' "Dallas," TV's most popular entertainment show.
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