Monday, October 26, 2009

Give Three Rivers a Chance

Alex O'Loughlin Dr. Doctor Andy Yablonski screencaps images pictures photos Three Rivers video
Wow. Three Rivers, the CBS medical drama starring Alex O'Loughlin and Alfre Woodard was truly excellent tonight. The episode, "Code Green", centered on a bus crash involving high school football players. Three Rivers actually began with an entire scene devoted to the team, the dynamics between a few players and a nerdy assistant "wannabe". I was impressed because the scene wasn't just some quick random sketching of characters. They actually gave the nerdy kid a great sardonic wit, and captured perfectly that stupid high school crap we all went through.

Three Rivers combines the action and suspense of the high pressure environment of the ER and transplant units with the rollercoaster of human emotion and drama. While it's got plenty of realistic surgery shots, it doesn't focus on the gore or just the big life/death situations. In "Code Green" we also see the struggle of deciding whether to keep a permanently damaged leg or replace it with a fake one, and we learn why you should never break protocol and tell the family a heart is on the way before you're certain that it is.

Dr. Doctor Sophia Jordan Alfre Woodard Three Rivers screencaps images photos pictures video
One thing that's happened a lot this TV season is that I see talented actors in a show and wish that they were back in their previous canceled series. I confess that when I saw the pilot of Three Rivers, I thought it was respectable enough, but wished O'Loughlin were back in Moonlight, and Woodard back in My Own Worst Enemy. While I still miss both those programs, after tonight I feel Three Rivers has a lot more going for it than I originally expected.

Daniel Henney Dr. Doctor David Lee Three Rivers screencaps images photos pictures video
O'Loughlin, as Dr. Andy Yablonski, offers a nice center for Three Rivers to revolve around. He's steady, capable, caring, and very human. Woodard's Dr. Sophia Jordan has a little harder edge to her, and there was an excellent scene with her and Dr. Lee (X-Men: Wolverine's Daniel Henney) in "Code Green", where she tells him the cold hard truth about what factors into life and death in the ER:

Three Rivers aims to be realistic, and thoughtful, but it also harkens back to old school doctor shows where you admired the docs and cared about the patients and a lot of times things work out well. With all the bloody horror and bad news on TV (both in TV dramas and on the real life news), it'd be nice to have something that tries to see some good in all the bad.

The main cast and guest stars on Three Rivers have been excellent. I really like Katherine Moennig (The L Word) as Dr. Miranda Foster. I'm sick of all the empty-eyed hair-flipping Barbie doctors on medical shows, and it's refreshing to see a no-nonsense, intelligent, and interesting female instead. Foster is good at her job, but sometimes has difficulty with the social skills required to deal with the tricky emotional situations that occur. What Moennig does so well is show what's inside--that Foster probably cares more than anyone about her patients, even if she doesn't always know the right thing to say.

Recent articles have been somewhat grim on the fate of Three Rivers. The ratings haven't been stellar, which could be due to a number of factors--too many doctor shows, the flawed pilot, or the ridiculously annoying way the shows get backed up due to the preceding football game overrunning its alotted time.

There haven't been any murmurs from CBS about cancellation, luckily, so here's hoping that by the end of the 13 episode initial run, Three Rivers will have found an audience. If tonight's episode "Code Green" was any indication, Three Rivers deserves it.

Watch Three Rivers on CBS, Sunday nights at 9/8c.

PHOTOS: Alex O'Loughlin as Dr. Andy Yablonski, Alfre Woddard as Dr. Sophia Jordan, and Daniel Henney as Dr. David Lee, Three Rivers "Code Green" screencaps, c2009 CBS Television Studios.


  1. Love 3R! It's an excellent show.
    Nice shout out to the actor's previous roles.(We're always sad to see them go)
    Especially tough time slot with time pushbacks and sports shows on other stations.
    Watch it, you'll like it too!

  2. Thank YOU for such a thoughtful, indepth, intelligent article about Three Rivers. You are correct on so many levels. Three Rivers has a terrible time slot, coming behind NFL games, even dedicated fans have trouble finding it on Sunday night. But the storylines, the casting of Alex O'Loughlin & Co and support of CBS, Donate Life and the fans, will keep this great show on the air. Each episode gets better and better and we're learning more & more backstory on the main characters, while being educated about the importance of organ donation, at the same time. From your 'pen' to CBS's ear.......keep Three Rivers flowing!

  3. Thank you for your comments!

    @Mary: I really think both Moonlight and MOWE were cut short just when their potential started to kick in. It's a shame. I'd now hate to see the same thing happen to 3R. The Sunday night timeslot is murder. I don't understand why CBS can't include a flexible news magazine show that could be anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes long, whatever it would take to even the schedule out and let the later programs run on time. It's a wonder Cold Case has survived this long.
    @Caro: I'm glad you enjoyed the article. As you see above, I find the timeslot difficulties very frustrating as well. The show is really coming along, and it would be nice if networks would give shows more of a chance before axing them. it takes a while for people to find series and get hooked on them. With budgets tighter now, they don't always have shows to ready to replace a series, so that actually works in Three Rivers' favor. Hopefully they can earn their keep in the important weeks ahead.

  4. Thanks for your article on Three Rivers. With all the crime-dramas on TV, this show is like a breath of fresh air. It has meaning. So many critics claimed it would be a dark, depressing show. It is just the opposite. I hope Three Rivers is with us a long time.

  5. You got the point they have been trying to portray in this television show. Everyone wants gore and sex and airheads. This show has some substance to it and I love it. The cast is not over the top and they are starting to get some development to their characters. Who wants to know everything the first show about everyone. Thanks for the great review.

  6. I love this show too,and I thought tonight's episode was amazingly good. Thank you for spreading the word about Three Rivers. This show has such potential. I hope the show gets the chance it deserves.

  7. Thank you for the article. You're right! Three Rivers is a gem and needs time to build an audience. Everyone in the cast is an interesting character and brings something special to the show that I would like to explore further. I'm an Alex fan from Moonlight (please give us a Moonlight movie) and he's already getting a lot of press. I'm liking Daniel Henney's Dr. David Lee more and more everyday. But I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised to discover Kate Moennig. She reminds me of another actress Sherry Stringfield from the early seasons of ER. Dr. Miranda has rough edges and her scenes are so raw and poignant, I love to see more of that.

    As for its current schedule, it's hard to find, even for those of us who try to follow it. The football game overruns have been annoying.

  8. I love Three Rivers and its fantastic young cast for telling compelling, heartfelt and inspiring stories week after week. Three Rivers gets better with each new episode. I sure hope that CBS is patient with Three Rivers and its cast and gives this wonderful and refreshing medical drama a chance to develop the characters' background and their story lines. It would be great if CBS can change Three Rivers' difficult time slot, perhaps to a week night, from Monday to Thursday.



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