New 'Trinity' is a family saga with a lot of stories to tell

October 16, 1998|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

For those viewers still missing Father Ray and the controversial "Nothing Sacred" from last season, has NBC got something for you: Tate Donovan as a parish priest who went to Yale Divinity and plays fiddle in an Irish rock band on the weekends. Rock on, Father Kevin, me Roman Catholic dream boy, and could you include a bit o' Van Morrison in the next set please?

And Father Kevin's only part of the package at the heart of "Trinity," a new weekly drama on NBC designed in part to provide a stronger lead-in to "Homicide: Life on the Street." He's but one of five grown-up McCallister kids featured in this family saga from John Wells, the creator of "ER."

Along with Father Kevin, you get NYPD Det. Bobby McCallister, played by Aidan Quinn look-alike Justin Louis. Bobby has a homicide to investigate tonight, a pair of decomposing hands wrapped in what looks like waxed paper. Bobby also has his other brother, Liam (Sam Trammel), to deal with. Liam works as a union official for a union run by wiseguys -- gangsters who, Bobby believes, are responsible for the tragic death of another McCallister brother, who was killed when he was only 15.

And then there are the lovely McCallister daughters, Amanda (Bonnie Root) and Fiona (Charlotte Ross). Amanda's got a drug problem, and Fiona, an up-and-comer on Wall Street, is in an adulterous affair that's breaking her heart. And don't ya know Father Kevin's prayin' for the both of them.

As is their sainted mother, Eileen, played by Jill Clayburgh, who seems entirely too stylish for the part. Simon McCallister, a retired police officer who presides over this great brood, is played by John Spencer as if he were about to fall asleep. After fathering this sprawling clan, he would be kind of tired.

"Trinity" is not an awful match for "Homicide." It's urban, East Coast, ethnic and has lots of cops. But it is more a superficial, prime-time soap opera than it is a quality, adult drama like "Homicide." Maybe, with better scripts, it will grow in the quality department.

Father Kevin, on behalf of all of us in Baltimore who want better ratings for "Homicide," we ask you to pray that "Trinity" find some soul. ** 1/2

New series

What: "Trinity"

When: 9 to 10 tonight

Where: NBC (WBAL, Channel 11)

Pub Date: 10/16/98

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