I could swear that the debut of Windfall ran about 26 times. Just switching to NBC almost any night last week would practically ensure that you’d see it. So does that mean the network will interpret the show’s ratings numbers as a whole or split them up over various nights, the way the show’s $386 million lottery is being divided over 20 characters? Whatever the case, with so many chances to tune in, I eventually caught the pilot, and while I didn’t feel I’d hit some summer drama jackpot, I didn’t believe I’d vigorously scratched a ticket with the edge of a penny in vain, either. Windfall is a lightheaded diversion — over-scored, Cuisinart-edited, earnestly corny, but tapped in well enough to the soapy possibilities inherent in sudden fortune to inspire role-playing from the couch: Would you dance around like that? Would you buy that car? Finally tell off that obnoxious boss? Rekindle that old flame? Move? Hire the lighting guy that makes everyone look like they live in a perpetual dusk? And yet, with 20 changed lives to follow, the show threatens to reduce the emotional trajectories of its characters to the equivalent of quick pick. I hope future episodes don’t feel as if somebody took three hours of material and reduced it to one. Maybe we’re in Lost territory: Each episode will focus on one character. But so far, I wouldn’t call it an ensemble show, more like a crowd piece.
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