Kathleen Quinlan may be the star of "Family Law", but co-star Dixie Carter steals the show. 

Dixie Chick

"Family Law" may be Kathleen Quinlan's show, but the veteran star, who won herself Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for playing Marilyn Lovell in "Apollo 13," had better keep an eye on her back. That's because co-star Dixie Carter, who's won a few awards herself, is stealing every scene she's in.

Quinlan plays Lynn Holt, who discovered in the first episode of this new Monday-night CBS series that not only did her husband not love her any more, but he also had cleaned out their law firm and had taken all their clients with him. After she got over the shock, the first thing Holt did was hire herself a pit-bull lawyer, Randi King (Carter), to file for a divorce. Holt, King and the one lawyer who hadn't run away with Holt's husband, Danni Lipton (Julie Warner), then set up shop on their own. Their first big statement came when they took over the office men's rest room — because it was larger — and stuck asparagus ferns in the urinals.

Quinlan and Warner are good, but Carter gets all the best lines and runs away with them. The screen absolutely lights up when she's on.

In each episode, the audience has learned a bit more about Randi King's backstory. What shocked her partners most was when they found out she was a convicted murderess. Next came the revelation that she had learned law by studying in prison. And if you think Carter was feisty in her Julia Sugarbaker role on "Designing Women," wait 'til you see her as King: She's a tigress looking for victims.

A native of McLemoresville, Tenn., Carter comes by her lush Southern accent honestly, but there's a sharp-edged carbon-steel tongue hiding behind the magnolias. She also earned her acting skills the hard way — by paying her dues for 36 years, beginning with off-Broadway's "The Winter's Tale," Broadway's "Fathers and Sons," and a slew of other theatrical and TV productions.

Creator Paul Haggis seems to recognize a riveting talent when he sees one. Carter's share of the show has steadily increased since its debut a little more than a month ago.

Carter at her best is the best there is, and given her head, she's likely to walk away with more awards for "Family Law." Nobody deserves success


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