Picks and Pans Review: High Society

updated 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Mondays, 9:30 p.m. ET)


The season's first replacement series (adios, If Not for You) is this decadent comedy of manners. The show's milieu is a dizzy Manhattan demimonde of penthouse duplexes, double martinis and designer everything, darling. Mary McDonnell (Dances with Wolves) plays a divorced socialite who is the best friend and publisher of a successful and deeply dissolute romance novelist (Jean Smart). This debauched, lecherous sophisticate is a long way from Smart's best-known role, the sincere, simple Charlene on Designing Women. But she makes the transition effortlessly.

McDonnell gives a very stagey performance, making sweeping gestures and arching her eyebrows coyly with each of her bon mots. (At one point she notes of the tempestuous Smart that she "has more scenes than a Robert Altman film.")

The material almost demands this level of theatricality. But grandeur of this sort usually seems affected on the small screen.

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