Picks and Pans Review: Any Day Now

updated 07/30/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/30/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Lifetime (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)

This fourth-year drama series fairly glows with sincerity. Costars Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts are not only abundantly talented but perfectly cast. So why don't I admire Any Day Now as much as I should?

My main problem with the show is its tendency to fill the screen with parallel story lines. In the season's third episode (July 29), for example, Alabama homemaker and aspiring writer Mary Elizabeth "M.E." Sims (Potts) deals with her father's Alzheimer's disease while her best friend, lawyer Rene Jackson (Toussaint), helps a mentally challenged young man find his long-lost mother. The plots are so neatly complementary that neither seems fully real.

Then there are the flashbacks to the '60s, in which white M.E. and African-American Rene struggle to stay friends in racially tense Birmingham. Olivia Hack, now playing the high school M.E., has the spunk and the twang to be a credible younger version of the Potts character. Otherwise the depiction of the past has an artificiality that's only underlined by the dashes of color in the mostly black-and-white scenes. The time to believe this series is whenever Toussaint and Potts—one of TV's strongest tandems—hold the screen.

Bottom Line: Stars redeem flaws

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