DRAMA SERIES "Lucky 7"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Tuesday night at 10 on ABC/7

REASON TO WATCH Based on a British drama hit about lottery winners ("The Syndicate"), the American pilot was filmed in Queens. (Episodes are shooting in Toronto.)

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The assorted employees of an Astoria corner car repair and quick-stop store regularly pool their lottery money -- and they actually hit it big with a massive jackpot. Well, most of them do. Kind of. Those niggling circumstances amplify the life choices that already unite/divide the varied mechanics, clerks and managers peopling this soapy saga.

Pilot-hour melodrama includes a robbery, assault, car chase, family fights, baby birth, marriage breakup, arranged-marriage meeting, threatened layoffs, and, uh, some action under the covers of a wedded couple.

MY SAY. Nice to see an ensemble cast of unknowns getting their shot. But tonight's setup tries to serve too many masters, detailing myriad settings, character conflicts, mystery and mayhem. It's hard to grasp the players/plot with everything in the world happening at once.

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Sure, a show should hit the ground running. But not so fleet that we fall behind. It's ironic Steven Spielberg is one of "Lucky 7's" executive producers, because tonight's arrival actually does what his "ER" pilot was accused of 20 years ago -- pacing action so fast, we can't keep track. Spielberg was right back then, of course. Things were quick, yet clear.

But "ER" was a two-hour pilot. Tonight's single hour packs in twice as much, with no familiar franchise framework (hospital, etc.) to ease us into its universe.

BOTTOM LINE "Lucky 7" might offer more to like than authentic texture of place, race, personality and workplace emotions. Will viewers stick around to find out?

@Newsday

GRADE B-