'Brotherhood' quirks not endearing

Part "Fargo" and part "Peyton Place," "The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire" (9 p.m., CBS), the new drama from prolific producer David E. Kelley, has one of the new season's most promising casts. But not even Mare Winningham, Randy Quaid, Chris Penn and Elizabeth McGovern can save "Poland" from its maudlin excesses.

The three beefy Shaw brothers think they run the town. Hank (Quaid) is the bitter police chief who is getting crankier by the moment because his wife (Winningham) no longer finds him attractive. She sees him as the living embodiment of Poland, a town in which she feels trapped. So can you blame her for not wanting to "make love" to Poland?

Garret (John Carroll Lynch, the stamp-illustrating husband from "Fargo") is the town's mayor. When not feuding with the town's biggest employer, he's fighting off a blackmail attempt by his former mistress, whose husband just shot himself because his art cinema went bankrupt.

Waylon (Penn) is out of work, and slightly out of his mind ever since he convinced himself that his wife was having an affair with a lover who disguised his cologne to smell like Pledge.

Clearly intended to be quirky, "Poland" all but drowns in a sea of bad whine. For a bunch of supposedly buttoned-up guys, the Shaw brothers talk about their feeling all the damn time. But their attempts at amateur therapy are a laugh riot compared to all of the police brutality, statutory rape, suicide, depression and economic recession going on in this dreary little town.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): Dan Rather joins U.S. troops as they hunt for Saddam Hussein; never-before-seen family movies of Frank Sinatra.
  • Puppy love and puppy breeding on "Ed" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • Contestants impersonate their favorites for a chance at $200,000 on the two-hour finale of "Performing As" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • The gang returns to decide the fates of Jun and Allison on the finale of "Big Brother 4" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • The Speaker of the House (John Goodman) and acting president addresses the nation as Bartlet searches for his daughter and takes the heat for past transgressions on "The West Wing" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • A teen's murder points to a possible serial killer on the 14th season opener of "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).

Late night

The Rock and Lynne Cheney appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Rob Lowe and Michelle Branch on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).


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