In an effort to attract viewers back to Friday nights, NBC makes a bold move - don't dare call it a "Hail Mary Pass" - and serves up a soap opera about a reverend. But this isn't about a Roman Catholic priest. In fact, "The Book of Daniel" (9 p.m., NBC) is a lot more "O.C." than "R.C."
Aidan Quinn stars in the title role as Daniel Webster. Yes, he's descended from that Daniel Webster, and his family has been in the Episcopal clergy business for some time. His father, Bertrum (James Rebhorn), is a bishop who is very close to another church big shot (Ellen Burstyn).
Don't go looking for a new "7th Heaven" here. Everybody on this show has sex. OK, Daniel's daughter Grace (Alison Pill) doesn't seem to have sex in the first three episodes, but she is arrested for dealing drugs before the opening credits roll. There's straight sex, gay sex, and pre-, extra- and just plain marital sex going on almost all of the time. And in a plot twist too complicated to explain, Daniel's gay son (Christian Campbell) has straight sex because he's too embarrassed not to.
Between trysts, there is time for other scandals. Daniel's brother-in-law embezzles funds from the church's building fund. Daniel's gorgeous wife, Judith (Susanna Thompson), is seen with a martini pitcher permanently attached to her hand. And later we learn that Daniel's smug older brother, Worth (D.W. Moffett), still holds a torch for her.
Excesses aside, "Daniel" is a real hoot and twice as addictive as Daniel's pills.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Tom Bergeron hosts "Dancing with the Stars" (8 p.m., ABC).
¢ A race to find an antidote on the season premiere of "Stargate SG-1" (8 p.m., Sci Fi).
¢ Pet psychologist Cesar Millan talks sense to dogs and their owners on the second-season premiere of "Dog Whisperer" (8 p.m., National Geographic).
¢ The boys trek to Tinsel Town in the movie-length adaptation of the 'tween series "Drake & Josh Go to Hollywood" (8 p.m., Nickelodeon).
¢ Undercover work proves deadly on "Numb3rs" (10 p.m., CBS).