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October 25, 2014

Cane: Pilot (series premiere)

by Brett Love, posted Sep 26th 2007 8:31AM
Cane
(S01E01) CBS made a lot of noise when they premiered their new schedule. The stodgy old network was finally going to leave the safety and security of "take no chances" programming they have built their recent successes on and try something new. Moonlight, Viva Laughlin, and Swingtown are certainly a step in a new direction. And then we have Cane, which I think of as their safety show.

The themes have been updated for the times, and the location has changed to Florida cane country, but this is a nighttime drama in the vein of Dynasty and Dallas. No vampires or dancing Wolverine, this is a series based in the classics. The Duques are a rich and powerful family full of members of varying degrees of honesty, and drama lurks around every turn.

Our story kicks off as we learn that Pancho Duque (Hector Elizondo) has been given six months to live. Pancho created the Duque empire from nothing and now he must set things up for the family to carry on after he is gone. Things take a turn for the worse when his natural born son, Frank (Nestor Carbonell), is passed over and control of the company is given to Alex (Jimmy Smits). Alex was a refugee taken in by Pancho as a young boy and he became part of the family. More than that, he later married Pancho's daughter, Isabel (Paola Turbay).

I'll stop there for a moment to acknowledge that this is what sold me on the show, these three actors. Really, I'll give anything that has Jimmy Smits and Hector Elizondo in it a shot. Neither of them disappoint here. And while I will miss Carbonell on Lost, it's nice to see him get a little more to do here. He's fantastic as the weaselly Frank. The rivalry that they have set up between the two eldest brothers is one that should offer up plenty of mileage. The confrontation after Pancho's announcement was the best scene of the night.

As part of the struggle over who will take over, both of them have very different views on an offer from the rival Samuels family to buy the Duque fields. Of course, Frank's business sense is somewhat clouded by his relationship with Ellis Samuels (Polly Walker). Something that I am sure we will be seeing more of as we move along. And he doesn't buy into Alex's insistence that sugar is the new oil. The Samuels family make good foes for Alex and the Duques. In no small part due to the fact that Lee Tergeson and Ken Howard make up the rest of the Samuels family, another bit of good casting.

I like the Duque vs. Samuels angle a lot, but I was a little surprised that it played out the way it did in this opening installment. The mystery of what happened to Pancho's daughter seems like one that could have gone on for a while. This episode presented it and tied it all back up rather quickly. It's not bad, and I'm sure that there are plenty of other stories to tell, just surprising. It worked in the end because it gave the chance to paint a little deeper picture of just who Alex is. We see a lot of the loving father, talking with his daughter about trust, and his son about priorities, and sharing a moment with Isabel when he finds out she is pregnant again. But then we also see Alex listening on the phone as the hit he ordered is carried out. It opens up a lot of avenues for that character.

I'd stop short of calling this a great episode, simply for the fact that it got a little crowded at times. It felt like they were rushing all of the characters on the screen just so we would know who they are. In doing so, it created more confusion as you try to remember who is who in this family. I'm thrilled to see Rita Moreno and Alona Tal back on my TV, but I would have been fine with pushing some of the introductions off into another episode. That extra time could have been spent on more of Alex and Frank dealing with Pancho's decision, or possibly more of the machinations behind the Samuels plot.

Still, it was a solid outing, and the series has set itself up with a lot of ways to go. Of course, predicting how shows are going to work out is a crap shoot. If it was easy, there wouldn't be the yearly round of three episodes and out debacles. My best guess for Cane is that it won't be a huge hit for CBS. This isn't the successor to CSI. On the other hand, it's not the next Smith either. With a solid premise, and a stellar cast, the show has a good shot at succeeding.

Is there room in your viewing schedule for a new nighttime soap?
Hell yes, the Duques are the Carringtons with better clothes!257 (67.3%)
So far, so good, but I'm not sure I'll be sticking around.78 (20.4%)
Hell no. The Duqes are just the Carringtons with better clothes.47 (12.3%)

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18 Comments

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Kristin Sample

I agree with what everyone is saying about the cast. CBS was not afraid to dole out some real cash to get some good actors this time. Rita Moreno, anyone? I'm so excited I get to see her every week. Of course the obvious: Jimmy Smits, and Hector Elizondo. Also, aside from Jimmy Smits, Polly Walker piqued my interest in this show. I actually recorded one of the commercials to make sure it was her. I think the cast alone will carry this show through a least a season.
Also, someone asked who plays Santo. I didn't see him on the CBS site so I will have to play closer attention to the credits next week. He does look very familiar though.

October 03 2007 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Georgia

Joyce, Thanks so much!! I've got it set to TiVo.

September 27 2007 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
El Fiscal

Smits' wife in the show... Colombia's own Paola Turbay

September 27 2007 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
El Fiscal

Where is Steve Bauer?... this show needs more Cuban actors! (real Cuban, not just hispanic)

September 27 2007 at 12:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

Georgia, according to my cable programming guide, CANE will be repeated on Saturday (29th) at 9pm on CBS.

September 26 2007 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alison

I'm surprised that you did not comment on the importance of a prime time Latino program of this caliber. Jimmy Smits is on the production team and actively promotes the inclusion of this large part of the Amercan population on TV.

It was plenty gritty for me! The complexities of human nature were evident in this first episode. Just because someone talks to important people doesn't automatically mean that he/she is a "good person". ---watched the news lately?
Two thumbs up on this program! May it grow and prosper.

Viva Cane!

:)

September 26 2007 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Arclight

I have anxiously been waiting for you to blog this season's opener for NCIS.

Have you given up blogging NCIS for Cane?

September 26 2007 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
C C

Each fall there's a new show that the critics trash, but I go ahead and sample despite their rants and come away wondering whether they had seen the same program I had. Last year it was Men in Trees. This year it's Cane. I'm sorry, there was nothing seriously wrong with it. The cast is divine, the set-up is purely Shakespearean-a hispanic, Floridian version of King Lear.

September 26 2007 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
La-Di-Dah

the show was fine. the story/characterization and dialogue could have been better. for me, smits' character descended into ordering a kill awfully fast (i mean: yes, he did shooting when he was younger, but that was passionate revenge in the heat of the moment, and he presumably hasn't been committing more of these crimes since then. i mean, at the beginning, they show him as a fine upstanding man, talking to senators, and all. His wife is way too pretty. Everyone is so pretty on this show, and so is the storyline. That's why it is soap-operaish and not gritty emough, i think.

other good things about the show besides pretty people, i guess, are its bravery in exhibiting latino talents and Cubana culture. but i have to say, there are dark people in Cuba, as well. where are they?

September 26 2007 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

I really liked the show. I 'm impressed with the actors, their charactors and the premise. I'm a huge Jimmy Smits fan, so I genuinely hope it's given a chance and stays on air for awhile.

September 26 2007 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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