After a decade as a sidekick on "Murphy Brown," Faith Ford isn't exactly embracing her status as the star of the new sitcom "Maggie Winters."

"I don't like to think of it that way," said the ever-charming Ford in a recent interview with TV critics.As a matter of fact, Ford - who was the ebullient Corky Sherwood on "Murphy" - prefers to think of "Maggie" as an ensemble comedy.

"Well, we weren't going to definitely call the show `Maggie Winters' when it came down to it initially because it is going to be very much an ensemble," she said. "But I guess, technically, you could call me (the star). I haven't quite embraced it at this point, but I'm here. I just like to call (her character) sort of another person in the show.

"I don't know. It's so new to me."

But Maggie is definitely the main character in "Maggie Winters," and Ford is definitely the star of the show. In the pilot episode, which airs Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on CBS/Ch. 2, Maggie discovers that her husband is cheating on her so she leaves him and the big city behind. But returning to her small hometown in Indiana isn't easy - she was voted "most likely to succeed" by her high school graduating class and, quite obviously, she hasn't.

Worse yet, her old friends seem to still be stuck in their high school days and act much the same as they did years earlier.

But relationships never die - at least not in this sitcom - and she soon comes to depend on her two best friends from her teen years. Robin Foster (Jenny Robertson) - voted "most likely to breed" in high school - is now a rather harried (and often ditsy) wife and mother. Lisa Hart (Alex Kapp Horner) - "mostly likely to snap" - is a sharp-tongued boutique owner who's still looking for Mr. Right.

The cast also includes Tom Vanderhulst as Brian Haley - "big man on campus" - the former star athlete who is one of those people who peaked in high school; and Clea Lewis ("Ellen") as Rachel Tomlinson, a former high school nerd who is now a position to avenge herself upon Maggie, who was a social star when they were teenagers.

(Vincent Ventresca will also be around from time to time as Maggie's ex-boyfriend, Bobby - "most likely to have actual sex.")

Best of all, the always-wonderful Shirley Knight is also a regular as Maggie's mother, Estelle.

"Maggie Winters" is certainly a likable show, although it's not a terrifically funny one. Ford is, as always, a delight. And you've got to love Knight.

As for the rest of the show . . . well, given some time this could turn into something really good.

As for Ford, she's still trying to adjust to the fact that she's gone from one sitcom to another a bit quicker than she anticipated.

"I wasn't really looking forward to much other than just maybe a little time off when I finished `Murphy Brown,' " she said. "I had hopes to do another show after that show, but I had no idea something would come along this quickly."