The new CW drama "Runaway" (8 p.m., CW) is a lot like the old "Lost in Space." While that 1960s show set the "Swiss Family Robinson" in the space program, "Runaway," takes the family on the lam. At its best, it works on the level of a waking nightmare, and "Runaway" is at its best most of the time.
Leslie Hope ("24") plays Lily, the resourceful wife of Paul Rader (Donnie Wahlberg), a former hotshot lawyer who claims to have been framed for a murder after celebrating some big case that resulted in an obscenely lucrative payoff. Somebody, or some agency, wanted him dead, so he skipped bail before his case came to trial. The mystery behind his ordeal is revealed in flashbacks that seem to be triggered every time he logs onto his high-tech PDA.
For reasons that emerge only eventually, he has decided to incorporate the whole family into his own personal witness-protection plan.
The action picks up when Lily, Paul and teens Henry (Dustin Milligan) and Hannah (Sarah Ramos) and young Tommy (Nathan Gamble) arrive in a quiet Iowa town. It takes a series of lies and evasions to get them settled into school and for Paul to score a low-profile job with under-the-table wages. If this weren't scary enough, we see a crack team of FBI agents dedicated to their capture.
"Runaway" does a good job of balancing "normal" teenage angst with the abnormal paranoia of the Rader family's fugitive saga. Should Henry call his old girlfriend? Can Hannah reveal too much to cute boys and cruel peers?
Despite its high-concept plot and unique situation, "Runaway" taps into a shared current of personal and societal insecurity. After all, every family has secrets. Just ask the guys on "Prison Break."
¢ Remember the "Outdoor Life Network"? Some time ago, it changed its name to OLN. And as of today, it will be known as the Versus Network.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ The brothers seek permanent shelter on "Prison Break" (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ An unsteady Lucy takes the pulpit on the season premiere of "7th Heaven" (7 p.m., CW).
¢ The Saints host the Falcons in NFL action (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
¢ The Senator squirms on "Vanished" (8 p.m., Fox).
¢ "Marie Antoinette" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) profiles the last Queen of France.
¢ A near hit-and-run taints evidence on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Matt panics as the clock ticks down to their first opening night on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (9 p.m., NBC).