Ken Tucker
December 03, 1993 AT 05:00 AM EST

The producers of last season’s evening soap opera Homefront, set in 1945, have come up with a frothier contemporary drama in Second Chances (CBS, Dec. 2, 9-11 p.m.; continues Thursdays, 10-11 p.m.). The premiere introduces us to the inhabitants of the small California town of Santa Rita, where it seems as if everyone is either related to or having an affair with someone else. Our chief protagonist is an attorney played by Connie Sellecca; she’s married and has an 8-year-old son. Things get dicey when an old flame comes back to town-he’s a convicted killer (Matt Salinger) just out of jail, but a really nice guy. Since Connie isn’t available, he starts dating her sister, played by a Megan Follows unrecognizable from her Anne of Green Gables days. There’s a parallel plot involving the marriage plans of a well-to-do law student (Justin Lazard) and a lowly waitress (Jennifer Lopez). Second Chances’ idea of daring is to make the law student’s parents (Ronny Cox and Frances Lee McCain) smiling racists. The marriage ceremony, by the way, includes a line not written in the vows: ”You slept with a stripper last night!” Somewhere along the line, eternally slinky Michelle Phillips pops up just long enough to hop into bed with no, that would be giving away one of the few plot turns you can’t see coming way ahead of time. Second Chances relies on too many verbal cliches and pat coincidences to promise much in the way of engrossing escapism. C-

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