Written By: Carol Barbee
Draft Date: February 2, 2009
Category: Thumbs Down
Alex O'Loughlin fans will be pleased to know that, of the three CBS medical shows, I find this the least appalling (see, I told you there were varying degrees within my categories). If CBS must pick up a medical show this season, I would hope it's this one.
That said... I don't think it should be picked up because I found myself incredibly indifferent to it. And for me, the only thing worse than making me indifferent is being vilely bad (I will even tolerate mild suck if I care enough about the characters or situation to see ways it could be improved... or if it fits into a "so bad it's good" category).
Three Rivers is very, very formulaic.
For that to work, the characters need to be very strong, and they just weren't. They were typical TV doctors with three (barely exceptional) exceptions. Dr. Andy Yablonski is a workaholic with marital difficulties. Dr. Miranda Foster is a surgical fellow with something to prove (the transplant wing is in her late father's name). Ryan Romero, not a doctor, is the new "assistant to the transplant coordinator" and has no medical training, but because the transplant coordinator just quit, he has to step it up with no training or experience, and he has a journalism background (news for a radio station) that comes in handy when the team is trying to fly an organ out of an area through / around a hurricane (eh... fake drama). Everyone else... cookie cutter.
The show follows three storylines in its main medical case (which will always be organ transplants... much like with Maggie Hill, I find this potentially limiting and, seriously, how many times do I need to see a doctor convincing someone to let a loved one's organs be donated?) The first is the story of the person who needs the transplant (in the pilot, a college basketball player with NBA hoop dreams who needs a heart transplant). The second is the story of the person who will, sadly, provide the transplant (in the pilot, Kim Mullins, who is shot at her wedding). And the third story, of course, is the doctors at Three Rivers (a hospital in/near Pittsburgh). The only shifting in this formula that I see down the road is when the writing staff of the show decides, "hey, let's not let this patient live for a change." There is also a B-medical case involving a sick, 50-something man getting a new set of lungs.