Having survived breast cancer, Alex Reed (Swoosie Kurtz), oldest of the Reed sisters of Winnetka, has launched a new career as a motivational speaker as Sisters begins its fourth season. Invited to appear on a local TV talk show, Alex is so hilarious that she causes the show's host, Harry Busby (Jack Betts), to literally die laughing -- whereupon she is invited to take over the show by producer Norma Lear (Nora Dunn). The outlook is less rosy for Alex's sister Frankie (Julianne Phillips), who has broken up with her husband, Mitch (Ed Marinaro). So bitter and vindictive is the custody battle over the couple's baby son, Thomas George, that the fed-up judge awards custody to the child's surrogate mother, Frankie's sister Georgie (Patricia Kalember) -- meaning that Georgie's husband, John (Garrett M. Brown), and sons Evan (Dustin Berkovitz)and Trevor (Ryan Francis) will have to put up with the squalling Thomas George for the next several months. At the same time, Georgie and John have serious problems with son Trevor, who has begun running around with a fast crowd and has gotten into booze and marijuana. After first arranging for Trevor to get a job at the Sweet Sixteen Maltshop, a favorite local hangout which Frankie has purchased, Georgie is forced to admit that her son's problems are beyond her control, and puts him into rehab. Ultimately, Georgie thinks about killing herself, but is saved with some much-needed good news about her other son, Evan.
As for Teddy (Sela Ward), the most troublesome of the Reed daughters, her happiness over making a success of her undergarment business is cut short with the news that her former sweetheart, millionaire Simon Bolt (Mark Frankel), has been lost at sea. The fact that rumors of Bolt's death prove to be slightly exaggerated does not help matters when Teddy finds out the circumstances behind Simon's disappearance. Elsewhere, Alex's daughter Reed returns from California under the influence of a religious cult, forcing Alex and Reed's husband, Kirby, to kidnap the girl in order to "deprogram" her; the sisters' mom, Bea (Elizabeth Hoffman), finds out that her current husband, Truman (Philip Sterling), has Alzheimer's; and Teddy's daughter, Cat (Heather McAdam), is brutally raped. In other developments, Teddy falls in love with James Falconer (George Clooney), the detective investigating Cat's assault; and Alex marries discount-store owner Big Al Barker (Robert Klein), her TV show's biggest sponsor -- only to stand by helplessly when Big Al is carted off to jail on a tax-fraud charge. As the season concludes, the Reed sisters come face to face with Dr. Charlotte "Charley" Bennett (Jo Anderson), the half-sister they never knew they had -- who is in dire need of a marrow transplant. And a nervous Teddy marries Falconer during a chaotic plane ride in the middle of a tornado. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi