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TV Series Review

Can winning a ton of cash ever be a bad thing? For the instant multimillionaires on NBC's summer drama Windfall, it may be. God's word tells us that money can be a stumbling block (Matthew 6:19-24) and that the love of it is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Most of Windfall's "lucky" ticket-holders don't seem to get this, however, as each episode uses their folly to preach that riches aren't everything.

After a $386 million lottery is divided among 20 winners, we learn what each plans to do with his or her share. Blue-collar husband and father Peter (Luke Perry) just wants a house that's not falling apart. Problem is, his marriage needs repairs. Peter's wife grapples with lingering emotions for her college beau, a fellow winner who has just informed her that he's always loved her and would leave his wife in a heartbeat.

Hiding an even more sordid past, Sean is dodging the feds and his ex-prison "buddies" for his part in a murder. He managed to lure a beautiful lawyer into collecting his cash ... and sleeping with him. Other winners include Damien, a rebellious teen; Frankie (who has a crush on Damien) and her divorcing parents; Maggie, a tenderhearted nurse; and single mom Kimberly.

That's a lot of characters to keep up with. And rather than rationing several seasons' worth of tantalizing tidbits about its mega-cast and preserving a sense of mystery the way ABC's Lost does, Windfall opts for an exhausting barrage of snapshots about one-dimensional individuals. Consequently, it's hard to care about any of them.

That doesn't bode well for this series, which isn't helped by its moral pitfalls. Mild language, infidelity, alcohol, gambling and sex scenes are series staples. Beyond that, the suddenly rich find irresponsible ways to live in the moment and fulfill their fantasies. For example, to collect his money and avoid a sticky legal issue with his parents, Damien marries a Russian mail-order bride. "It was just a business deal," he tells his dad, shoving his independence and the possibility of "having sex with an insanely beautiful woman" in his father's face. The sassy teen then hosts a raucous drinking party for his friends.

Windfall tries hard to display its characters in the blinding light cast by newfound riches. Unfortunately, that lesson quite often gets eclipsed by sleazy personalities and a parade of things that a handful of $1,000 bills can buy.

Episodes Reviewed: June 8, 15, 2006

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