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TV Squad previews CBS's new shows

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 2nd 2009 2:00PM
cbs_logoGenerally speaking, CBS had a strong 2008, developing one bona fide hit drama -- The Mentalist -- even though shows like The Ex-List never found an audience or a critical plaudit. Ironically, I liked The Ex-List based on the screener I reviewed last summer, so go figure. Sometimes a preview can inform you about a show's potential and sometimes it's just the best it'll ever be.

CBS has shared previews for the new season and we've had a chance to take a look. There are star vehicles for Jenna Elfman, Alex O'Loughlin and Julianna Margulies, which would seem logical based on the success of Simon Baker as The Mentalist. CBS is counting on familiar, popular TV stars to win over audiences. Will the strategy work? It's probably too soon to tell.

Still, we've watch these advance peeks and here are our thoughts -- bearing in mind that things are liable to change before the shows air.

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Three Rivers (Sunday at 9:00PM ET)

Premise of the screener: Dr. Andy Yablonski is a dedicated doctor, the leader of the team of surgeons at Three Rivers Center for Transplant Medicine, a prestigious Pittsburgh hospital that specializes in transplants. Working against the clock to save patients, Three Rivers explores not only the doctor's trials, but the lives of organ donors and recipients of the organs, often dealing with questions of ethics and efficacy.

Allison says: Alex O'Loughlin is the centerpiece of Three Rivers, and if fans feel that CBS didn't come through for the star with Moonlight, the network has made every effort to give him a success with this new medical drama. The show is not edgy or caustic in the style of House or Nurse Jackie. Three Rivers is just the opposite. It's earnest and contemplative. It poses ethical questions about transplants, giving the viewpoints of those donating organs as well as those receiving the spare parts. While there's some mention of Dr. Andy's troubled home life in the screener (he's living in a motel instead of his house), the focus of the show is the hospital, the patients and the life or death race to get the transplants done. Considering the quality of this initial offering, as well as the prime Sunday time slot, Three Rivers will have a solid send-off and could very well be an early hit.

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Accidentally On Purpose (Monday at 8:30PM ET)


Premise of the screener: Dharma and Greg comic Jenna Elfman is back in sitcom world, this time as Billie, a late-thirtysomething San Francisco film critic who has a brief fling with a younger man and winds up pregnant. Fearing that this is her only chance to have a baby, Billie decides to have the baby, only to discover that her boy toy, Zack, wants to stick around and help her through the pregnancy.

Joel says: I like Jenna Elfman. Really I do. She has comic chops that are close to if not the equal of the best comic actresses on TV. But she continues to choose projects that are lame at best. The premise of the show is supposed to make Billie look like a 21st century "in charge" woman, but just because she sleeps around with younger guys doesn't mean she's "in charge." They want her to be an artistic Murphy Brown but the flat jokes make her look more like someone desperately trying to hold on to her youth. Ashley Jensen does a nice job as Billie's best friend, but she needs to be portrayed as more than the boozy friend if we're going to see the same woman we loved in Extras and Ugly Betty.

Oh, and don't the writers realize that that the newspaper film critic is a dying breed?

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The Good Wife (Tuesday at 10:00PM ET)


Premise of the screener: Emmy-winner Julianna Margulies stars as Alicia Florrick, the good wife and mother of two who has to restart her legal career after her politician husband's -- Chris Noth -- very public sex and corruption scandal lands him in jail.

Allison says: The set up for The Good Wife is ripped right from the headlines, in particular the story of New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, but what makes this show a likely hit is the superb cast -- Margulies, Noth, as well as Josh Charles and Christine Baranski -- and the compelling situation. Alicia is caught between a rock and a hard place, starting over by returning to the law, but still attached to her disgraced, imprisoned husband. Just when she thinks she's moving on, her life as the "good wife" pulls her back. There's a lot to like in The Good Wife -- including the Aaron Sorkin style walk-and-talk dialogue -- and I suspect that audiences will tune in for the premiere and keep coming back for more.

Undercover Boss (midseason)

Premise of the screener: What happens when the CEO of a company experiences the business from every angle by going undercover in lower positions? That's the idea behind Undercover Boss, an unscripted series that's part documentary and part reality drama.

Allison says: This isn't a new idea. I've seen it before and you have, too, most likely. However, that's not to say that Undercover Boss doesn't work. The preview was definitely a good watch. But even as I liked what I saw, I wondered how other episodes wouldn't fall into the same formula. Wouldn't every boss discover how hard the employees beneath him/her are working and want to improve their lot? Won't the cameras sort of dictate that result? The jury is still out on the long term potential for Undercover Boss.

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Lesley

Anything with Chris Noth in it has me interested. Still can't figure out why he left Law & Order Criminal Intent.

July 03 2009 at 12:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
justmick

I've been waiting too long to see Alex O'Loughlin back on TV. I'll certainly be there for 3 Rivers. The premise sounds very interesting.

July 02 2009 at 10:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
D-Bo

CBS is dead to me after canceling The Unit. And to add insult to injury they replace it with this crap?

July 02 2009 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to D-Bo's comment
Jeff N.

The Unit was an excellent show. Nothing else on CBS like it. So they cancelled it. Only the Good Wife has me slightly interested.

July 03 2009 at 12:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brainfish

Undercover Boss is already showing here in in the UK. I think the US version will be on par with the US version of Kitchen Nightmares. Compare the US & UK versions of Kitchen Nightmares and you'll see what I mean

July 02 2009 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
C C

I predict The Good Wife will be the breakout hit from the four major networks next fall. You couldn't come up with a better cast.

July 02 2009 at 4:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AngryBob

Let's see - doctor program, lawyer program, reality program - what imagination!

July 02 2009 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
barbrafan3

I'm excited to see Alex O'Loughlin in Three Rivers even though I still miss the wonderful Moonlight.

July 02 2009 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lorie

As a mourning Moonlight fan, I pray 3R is a huge success for Alex. I can't wait for its premiere. 10/4 can't come soon enough!

July 02 2009 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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