Idol Chatter

In a culture where quick wealth and instant fame are becoming more and more glamorized on television–think the recent hit game show “Deal or No Deal” and almost every reality show on the tube–it seems the time is right for a drama like NBC’s newest series, “Windfall.” The series, which premieres tonight and is slated for a limited summer run, follows a group of 20 people–some friends, some not–after they win $380 million in a state lottery.

Faster than you can say “Money is the root of all evil,” many of the winners respond to this sudden change in their bank accounts in self-destructive ways. First there are the two couples who immediately compromise their marriages, and then there is the former criminal who becomes romantically involved with a lawyer who may or may not be using him for her own purposes. And then there’s the teen who marries a Russian immigrant because he is too young to collect his lottery winning (she collects the money for him instead).

After screening the first two episodes sent to me by the network, I still liked the concept of the show more than I liked the episodes themselves. I wished that the series producers would have taken a subtler approach to the show’s premise. Every dramatic twist and turn in the various storylines is telegraphed to the audience well in advance of it actually happening. Every character on this show is so gorgeous and already has such a wonderful life–with a couple of exceptions–that feeling joy or empathy for them is a little difficult.

What would make for far more dramatic television, in my opinion, is if the show would take the time to examine the ways that greed and temptation creep into our lives slowly, over time, in numerous subtle ways that we are often unprepared for. But if you are looking for some harmless, soap opera-like escapist fare to watch instead of re-runs of your favorite TV shows , then I guess “Windfall” is just the ticket for you.

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