Here are two Jackie Collins books combined to form a romance-novel version of The Godfather. Nicollette Sheridan (Knots Landing) stars as Lucky, the ambitious daughter of an ambitious hood (Vincent Irizarry). Over three nights and six hours covering roughly half a century, Lucky grows from a randy teenager (Sheridan in a weird, down-to-her-backside, Crystal Gayle-style wig) into the imperious boss of an Atlantic City casino (Sheridan with normal hair in gowns slit up to her hip).
In the pulp-fiction best-sellers she has created, Collins undercuts the titillation by punishing her female characters for being sexy. Sheridan and such costars as Mary Frann (Newhart), Anne-Marie Johnson (In the Heat of the Night), Leann Hunley (Dynasty), and Audrey Landers (Dallas) are showcased gorgeously only to be yelled at, threatened, and condescended to. Presented as heroes, they're actually victims. ''Men have always used me-it's the story of my life,'' sighs Landers, playing a Marilyn Monroe-like star.
The awkwardly titled Lucky/Chances is one of the few long miniseries of the new season, and its soul-numbing humorlessness makes you realize why this format is, mercifully, dying out. Director Buzz Kulii has little sense of proportion here. Trivial episodes in Lucky's life seem to go on forever, while her rise to power is dealt with almost as an afterthought. One of the least important sections of the film is, however, the most entertaining: Lucky/ Sheridan's days in a strict Swiss boarding school, where her roommate is the terrific Shawnee Smith (All Is Forgiven), who says things like ''Stick with me I can find us cigarettes, boys, drugs, and sex.'' If only more of those things were in this miniseries. C-