As someone who was championing this show early on, I thought I’d write my response on the inevitable news. Earlier this week, I learned from the Three Rivers blog via Twitter that CBS has ‘pulled it from its Sunday night schedule,’ which essentially means they’re canceling it. I don’t know why they don’t just come right out and say it, as if saying otherwise would soften the blow to the show’s fans. It’s definitely a substantial setback for the lead actor Alex O’Loughlin, as the show was apparently already canceled in his own homeland Australia after just ONE episode! He wrote a heartfelt letter to his fans on his own’s My Space blog expressing his obvious dismay.
As some of you may know, I was pumped to see this as I was a fan of his former CBS show Moonlight. Although its debut didn’t exactly impress me, I was willing to still give TR a chance with a hope that it’d improve enough to get me hooked. Alas, it never happened. In fact, I ‘forgot’ to see it two Sundays ago and didn’t bother to catch it on Hulu right away. Suffice it to say, I lost interest. Therefore, this cancellation news wasn’t really a ‘blow’ to me, but actually a confirmation of what I’ve been feeling. Still, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad about the cast, and really, that’s the most disheartening part about this because IMO they’re perhaps the least to blame.
The series seems doomed from the get-go, what with the not-so-desirable Sunday night timeslot that are plagued with inconsistent airtime due to the NFL games over-run. Not to mention the episode switch snafu of the debut where “Ryan’s first day” got pushed to a second episode when it should’ve been the first. I was utterly puzzled seeing Ryan arrived on the job when he already was part of the team the week before. That’s a HUGE screw-up that no doubt led to some dismal reviews. But those are just the beginning. I think if the show were at least compelling and well written, people could easily forgive those mishaps and embrace it anyway. Which brings me to what I think are the two biggest problems with Three Rivers: the poor writing and lack of character development.
I read this one comment from one of this article that exactly summed up my sentiment:
Connie Marshall December 1, 2009 at 4:31 pm
“The problem is simple: terrible writing from Carol Barbee, sappy stories and utter lack of character development. As one reviewer pointed out, you can’t bond to characters you don’t know anything about. Alex is an amazingly talented actor but Barbee didn’t give him anything to work with. I wanted to love this show the way I did Moonlight but it was impossible. I hope Alex dumps CBS and moves on to something worthy of him.”
The lack of character development really bugged me. This is Alex O’Loughlin’s vehicle and CBS made sure of that, yet I can’t bring myself to like his character Andy Yablonski. In fact, after a couple of viewings, I was rooting for other cast members instead of him. I wanted to like him so much the way I did Moonlight’s Mick St. John (more on that later), but Yablonski’s so ho-hum and uninspiring (which is ironic as he’s pegged as a ‘savior’). It’s not the actor’s fault as I think he’s doing his best with the material given to him, but man, he was basically given zero chance to shine. The rest of TR cast members Kate Moennig, Alfre Wooddard, Christopher Hanke, and Daniel Henney are also all very, very watchable, but they’re also wasted by the two reasons above. I couldn’t like Henney’s Dr. Lee as much I wanted to, either. We’re told his character was a ‘ladies man,’ but he never really came across that way. When they tried to show that seductive side of him, the scene was so lackluster and lame. I mean, the guy showed far more magnetism in his no-dialogue clothing commercials! It’s a moot point now but I thought I’d mention that just a couple of weeks ago, I read that Oded Fehr was joining the show — as if having another eye-candy doctor was what the show needed. I like the Israeli actor from the time I saw him in The Mummy series so his presence certainly couldn’t hurt, but I wish CBS had invested in some stellar writers instead.
They have had some pretty good guest stars on the show, i.e. Mandy Patinkin who played a car accident victim with Lou Gehrig’s disease. But overall the show is nothing more but an endless rotation of transplant donors/patients and a tedious hospital daily grind with impossibly attractive surgeons. My friend Becky mentioned that TR shares a similar problem with the fellow CBS show Eleventh Hour — which boast the ever-so-charming Rufus Sewell — in that it never let his character Dr. Jacob Hood go beyond his day-to-day job as a biophysicist. Like I said in my previous reviews, if I wanted to see the day-to-day “reality” life of a hospital, I could’ve just rented a documentary on the subject.
Ok, it’s no surprise that most of Alex’s fans — which surely made up the majority of TR viewers — immediately suggested bringing back Moonlight. Truthfully, that idea did cross my mind as well, and I tell you why. Moonlight had soooo much potential and given people’s never-ending fascination with vampires, such a show had far more appeal than any medical show ever would. It’s hugely ironic that it got canceled right at the massive upsurge of the Twilight hysteria. Ever since then, two vampire TV shows have gained popularity: HBO’s True Blood and WB’s The Vampire Diaries. The first cater to adults with its more risqué scenes; whilst the other is geared for teens. That means Moonlight would fit right in between the two as the only vampire show for its demographic on network TV.
I’m not saying Moonlight was a perfect show as it’s got its own shares of problems, too. However, it did have a lot of great things going for it, i.e. fascinating characters and riveting love story. Alex’s Mick and his love triangle with his vampire ex-wife Coraline (who first ‘turned’ him) and his human crush Beth was the glue that kept me tuned in week after week. It was the ultimate guilty pleasure! Sophia Myles was PERFECT as Beth, she is a phenomenal actress who seemed to bring the best out of Alex (and vice versa) and their scenes together are downright addictive. Need proof? Just search for Mick/Beth on Youtube and you’ll get a slew of fan-made clips of the star-crossed lovers. Shannyn Sossamon as the seductive Coraline kept things interesting as she brought in the passionate fury that every vampire show has to have. Not to mention Mick’s mischievous BFF Joseph (played brilliantly by Jason Dohring of Veronica Mars fame) who stole scenes every time he came on. Check out the clip from the last episode. Starting at 03:00, that’s easily one of the most amusing scenes in the whole show. I love Joseph’s wicked sense of humor and I often thought his character was almost worthy of a spin-off! Unlike TR, Moonlight was more about the personal life of the vampire PI than his detective job, so the characters were nicely fleshed-out for viewers to root for.
Anyhoo, I can go on and on about this, but let me just close my Moonlight argument once and for all with how great the cliffhanger was of the last few episodes. In the final show, the DA (played by Eric Winters) was shown reading a document listing all the names of vampires living in L.A., which I thought makes for a terrific set up for season two! Mick and Beth were also shown finally consummating their season-long restrained passion for each other, which made us all screamed ‘now what?!’ in agony when the end credits rolled for the very last time. [Sigh]
Ok, that’s my last rant about Moonlight as we all know there is no chance in heck that vampire show would ever see the light of day (pun intended) ever again.
I do hope that Alex’s contract with CBS will soon end so that he’s ‘free’ to find another show worthy of his talent. He’s got a new movie coming up with Jennifer Lopez (a rom-com, what else) called The Back-Up Plan. It looks pretty predictable and formulaic but at least he’s got the lead role that might get him noticed more in the movie biz. I also wish that Daniel Henney would also find another show soon. That guy has oodles and oodles of screen presence and I sure hope he’d join fellow Korean-American actors such as John Choo in Flash Forward and Ken Jeong in Community to star in a high-profile series. I was actually thinking of checking out Flash Forward but it, too, is facing an uncertain future as ABC shut down production when ratings plummeted.
CBS said it would complete production of its initial 13 episodes, so I may still watch the last five episodes. Oh well, I guess I have to find another show to root for. I wonder when they will air Miami Trauma, starring British actor Jeremy Northam (who’s delightful as Mr. Knightley in Emma, and deliciously evil in The Net). Too bad it’s yet another medical show but if it proves to be better than TR, I just might give it a shot on account of Jeremy!