No Coattails

Two series fail to create a West Wing dynasty

IT IS THE WINTER AFTER THE ELECTION, and the President's numbers are dropping. We're talking, of course, about President Josiah Bartlet, whose show, The West Wing, down in the ratings this season, probably seemed like a better candidate for cloning when Mister Sterling was conceived. Sterling (NBC, Fridays, 8 p.m. E.T.), from ex--West Wing producer Lawrence O'Donnell, stars Josh Brolin as a political naif appointed to fill a vacant Senate seat. Populated with more straw men than an Iowa cornfield--sleazy lobbyists, nosy reporters, cynical legislators--Sterling plays safely down the political middle, making its stiff title character an independent. Like a timid...

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