CBS Three Rivers Debut tonight – FlixChatter review

Well, the show I’ve been waiting for months is finally on tonight. As I mentioned in my previous post on this, it’s a medical drama focusing on organ transplant set in Pittsburgh where three rivers meet, hence the name.

Alex OLoughlin as Dr. Andy Yablonski
Photo courtesy of

Now, I don’t watch hardly any TV, so I don’t get have the ‘oh not another medical drama’ kind of apathy from regular TV watchers. In fact, I’m kind of psyched to finally have a show to look forward to every week, and this just might be my new guilty pleasure after the vampire show Moonlight. Of course it’s no coincidence it stars the former vampire detective himself Alex O’Loughlin — the reason I watch the show, natch! — this time as the charismatic superstar surgeon Andy Yablonski. Other than the pitiful name, Andy is a doctor cut from the same cloth of a Disney fairy-tale prince. I echo what Hollywood Chicago said in their rather dismal review of the show, “With his piercing eyes, five o’clock shadow, and succinct delivery, he’s from the “George Clooney on ER” school of TV doctors – the kind we all dream we have the day that we end up in the hospital – caring, brilliant, and movie-star handsome. Yablonski will save your baby, get the girl, and ride off into the sunset. He’s an old-fashioned TV doctor in every way.” Daniel Henney is equally dreamy as what the CBS billed as ‘the surgeon who breaks as many heart as he replaced.’ In the short scenes he’s in, he pretty much gives Alex a run for his money. I’ve never seen Katherine Moennig before this show, but I must say her character is probably the better-written one so far, and she’s not as brooding as I saw in the original pilot clips and with much smoother hair, too. Speaking of hair, I much prefer Alex’s no-nonsense crop here. As much as I adore Mick’s longish, romantic coif in Moonlight, all that hair gel just won’t jell for a surgeon (sorry, I can’t help myself).

Ok, it’s late so I’m just going to keep my review short.

The good: The premise is promising, the two angles from the donor and the transplant patient has plenty of potential for heart-wrenching (pardon the pun) human drama. The avant-garde set is beautiful, it’s as if they’re in some futuristic space ship or something with the Gyricon technology a’la Minority Report (that Spielberg movie with Tom Cruise). Equally beautiful is the diverse and talented cast. Both Alex and Katherine had been in popular shows before that showcased their acting chops, and Alfre Wooddard is an Oscar winner. From what I’ve seen so far, the cast seems pretty believable in their roles … if only their characters were just a bit more intriguing or at least equal to the cases they’re faced with — which brings me to …

The bad: With everything going for it, I wish the writing has a little more bite. The plot is predictable and the writing rather pedestrian, which is too bad as they’ve got some capable actors who could do so much more. With all the intense emotions ricocheting all over the hospital, the main characters themselves lack heart (and wit too, I might add). We know just a bit about Moennig’s character Miranda Foster, whose father built the hospital, but that’s about it. What we know of Yablonski is that he’s super smart and the best in his profession, but a flawless and mighty hero isn’t exactly a character that’s relatable or worth caring for. Perhaps it’s too soon to say though, as it’s a series, so the history of the main leads are hopefully going to be revealed in due time.

So, will I keep watching the show?

The answer is yes. It’s far from a perfect debut, but I’m going to give the show the benefit of the doubt that it will gain momentum in future episodes. Besides, it’s Sunday night, even without a top-notch writing, it’s still enjoyable just on the casting alone. An interesting tidbit about the scrubs, apparently the tight-fitting scrubs I saw in the pilot are out according to O’Loughlin (read his EW interview here). Now, as much I appreciate his taut physique, I’m glad they go with the normal scrubs, though I notice they didn’t reverse that uniform policy on Mr. Henney? Ehm… I’m not complaining though.

Oh, last thought before I hit the hay: I kind of miss the love story a la Moonlight between Beth & Mick, which was really the best thing about the show and kept my interest despite the poor writing. I hope they’d inject that into the show somehow, but sans the overt melodrama of Grey’s Anatomy.

5 thoughts on “CBS Three Rivers Debut tonight – FlixChatter review

  1. Kathi

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU!! Your review stands out as being both positive and fair unlike so many right now on the ‘net. Three Rivers has much going for it and, with a bit of time, patience and work, could become a great series with a very important message. As an ardent Alex O’Loughlin fan, I appreciate your thoughtful assessment..and hope that TR is given the opportunity to grow and develop into the best it can be!!

    1. I actually read a lot of the reviews but as much as I agree that the writing could be greatly improved, it’s too early to write it off. I’ve only watched about a couple of episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and I must say I like TR a heck of a lot better. The cast is really the best thing about this show, but the writers should work harder to maintain the quality and make this more than ‘eye candy’ for Alex’s fans.

      Thanks for your comment, Kathi.

  2. Thank you so much for giving such a positive review, I feel the same. So many great things on here, Alex of course but the cast and energy here can only get better and better.

    I have a personal connection to this show, my sister died 11 yrs ago from a brain aneurysm and we donated her organs/tissue. It brought everything full circle and although we couldn’t save her life, she does live on in others. It really gave meaning to her 34 short years here.

    Thanks again and I look forward to every Sunday night, please people give it time to unfold, this show is worth watching and hopefully you’ll donate life also. It’s a win win! GO THREE RIVERS, YAY ALEX~ I’m so happy to have you home again!

    God bless!

    Beth, Alex’s NOLA Gurl~ MoonCHild69
    Moonlight and Beyond

    1. Thanks for your comment, Beth. I think it’s great that shows like this bring more attention to organ donation that indeed saves a lot of people’s lives. That’s very noble of your sister and family to be able to do that, that scene with the middle-eastern man’s family must’ve really hit home for you.

      I sure hope the show stays past one season. Alex is great to watch, and it doesn’t hurt having Daniel Henney, too =)

  3. lynnrxgal

    I agree with much of your assessment of 3R. Let’s all see what the next couple of episodes bring.

    I, too, miss the magic of Moonlight: the romance, the angst, the betrayals, the friendships… but I knew going in that this medical show would not have the same vibe. It’s not just apples and oranges, it’s ice cream and nachos!

    One suggestion: I hope that CBS scraps that “drummy” music. It was annoying and detracted from the warm yellows and flowing sets. There’s so much good music out there to choose from that would enhance the theme of Three Rivers.

    To Alex and the rest of the talented cast and crew: I’m rooting for you!

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