Picks and Pans Review: Further Tales of the City

updated 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Showtime (Sun., May 6-27, 10 p.m. ET)

If you saw Tales of the City (PBS, 1994) or More Tales of the City (Showtime, 1998), you know what to expect from this new four-part adaptation of Armistead Maupin's fiction: sexual frankness and a bizarre plot strand or two. If you're a stranger to the San Francisco saga, you'll feel at sea till at least the second hour of Further Tales. (Consider waiting for June, when Showtime airs all three miniseries in order.)

It's 1981 and aspiring TV reporter Mary Ann (Laura Linney from You Can Count on Me) is onto a huge story: A charming homeless man (Henry Czerny) may have infamous evil in his past, and he may be stalking the two small children of Jonestown survivor DeDe (Barbara Garrick). This story line, which the script can't bring itself to take seriously enough, makes the other tales seem like tame time-wasters. Are Mrs. Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis) and her mother (Jackie Burroughs) smitten with the same man (John McMartin)? Will Michael (Paul Hopkins) and Jon (Once and Again's Billy Campbell) get back together? I wish I cared more.

Bottom Line: Only fair, but fans will want to go further

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