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Windfall - on NBC

Critics are praising “Windfall”and somewhat rightly so – although the pilot wasn’t brilliant television, it was better than satisfactory. NBC has been long in need of a hit since the end of its “Must See TV” Thursday nights, and “Windfall” has the potential to help NBC reclaim its previous status. But does it have enough “wind” to last more than one season?

“Windfall” is the story of 20 people, mostly friends, along with a few lucky strangers, who each win $20 million dollars in the lottery. The show’s tagline – “Money changes everything,” is put into perspective as we watch the characters lives unravel as a result of their winnings. Lives are forever changed – a few for the better, many for the worse. The central characters Peter and Nina Schaefer (Luke Perry, Lana Parrilla) and Cameron and Beth Walsh (Jason Gedrick, Sarah Wynter), are two couples who each have a partner with eyes for another. Nina and Cameron were college sweethearts. The Walsh’s planned on moving away, but the money allows them to stay – perhaps so Cameron and Nina can remain close to one another?

“Windfall” provides an initial gust of wind with its opening –the characters are set up in such undesirable situations that their newfound fortunes dupe you into believing this is a good thing. A single mother/pizza delivery girl is fed up with life in the trailer park and plans to move away with her sister. A nurse is as frustrated with her car frequently breaking down as well as with the bigwigs at her hospital. It’s feel–good TV when you consider that their lives will change for the better.

“Windfall” then lowers the boom. Now that they’ve all won the lottery, what could possibly go wrong? Everything. A paternity claim arises. A divorce gets messier. An unlikely friendship develops as a result of feuding parents. A mysterious member of the group cannot claim his winnings, for fear that his secret will be revealed. A bi–racial couple already in the midst of a messy divorce now has something else to argue about. A claim may prevent the friends from seeing their winnings. NBC reaffirms what we already knew – money changes everything.

On the surface, there’s enough drama to sustain several seasons. However, “Windfall” is not strong enough to maintain its initial momentum. The storylines are not unusual, and the characters are not compelling enough. “Windfall” is really not Must See TV material – rather it’s “TV movie of the week”. “Windfall” is like a summer romance that may end come the fall.

Watch Windfall Thursday nights 10/9c on NBC.

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