CBS Three Rivers: Episode 4 Review

In its fourth episode, Three Rivers is showing a strong rhythm with the most pulsating episode yet. It starts with an uplifting note of a high-school football game, but of course, as this is a medical drama, we know disaster is lurking around the corner. The bus carrying 40+ students blew a tire, injuring all of the passengers and the driver, most critically except for one lucky student. The hospital suddenly went into ‘code green’ alert mode as the massive casualties began to swarm the facility. This is a well-executed show both in and out of the hospital. It seems like CBS allocated a pretty decent budget to create each episode and it showed.

The Three Rivers blog has a pretty thorough recap/review, so this is just my two-cents on the episode as a whole.

The good: The lead actors have been quite believable as doctors from the start, but this episode definitely proves it even more. Dr. Lee’s got a bit more screen time — always a plus — and his emotional performance in the saving-the-driver’s-life scene was great to watch. His encounter with Dr. Jordan is affecting, and their scenes felt realistic and natural.

Dr. Lee and Dr. Jordan share a moment
Dr. Lee and Dr. Jordan share a moment

I like the one where Lee was watching Rose the bus driver from behind the glass, happy that she’s finally breathing on her own after 20 minutes of CPR, which is something of a miracle. If Dr. Jordan hadn’t demanded for him to continue the CPR, she’d have lost her life. Lee asked her how she knew. She didn’t, the head surgeon said, it was only because there was no other critical patient behind her that she let him keep trying before declaring her death. What a sad reality, but I guess that’s what hospital staff must face day after day. Dr. Lee’s expression when he realized that was priceless. It’s as if he knew how blessed Rose was and that no matter what he did, a lot of it was out of his control. Ironically, when something good did happen, they hardly even had time to savor the moment.

One thing for sure, I have even more appreciation for the organ-transplant aspect of the medical field after watching this show. It’s mind boggling the process of securing an organ. It’s hard enough to find a match for a specific patient, but they still have to account for unforeseen scenarios of actually ‘obtaining’ the organ itself once they have the organ. In a matter of minutes, someone could lose a body part they’ve spent years waiting for, and that devastating reality is at the core of this episode. Brandon, whose wife was pregnant, was in dire need of a heart transplant. He’s already in ECMO treatment, which is a last-resort option for someone with his condition. At best, he could live for up to a week without a new heart. So when Ryan finally got a call from UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) there’s a heart available for Brandon, he was more than excited. But he did something he weren’t supposed to, that is tell a family member of the good news before the actual procurement team is in place to retrieve it. Sure enough, they hit a snag when the donor located 200 miles away turned out to be unstable, which means the procurement team had to get it within 90 minutes. As soon as Andy learned the good news, Dr. Jordan told him he couldn’t leave to get it, and no other surgeon was available. The tension built as Ryan admitted to Andy he’d screwed up by telling Brandon’s wife that he got a heart. For the first time, the usually laid-back Andy chewed him up. I find his character a bit too reserved in this show, so this is definitely a nice change! I’ve enjoyed watching Alex get all riled up in Moonlight, he’d curl his lips and all the veins start protruding from his neck in raging fury. Call me crazy but I find that kind of sexy. I don’t miss the fangs and white eyes though, but I wish I could see more of the passion and brooding sensibilities that Mick possessed.

The bad: Even with such a riveting plot, this show still leaves me wanting more. As I mentioned in the episode 3 review, my biggest complaint about the show is the character development of the main characters. We get even less details about the doctors’ personal lives, overwhelmed by the patients crisis story line. I understand it’s a medical drama, but if I wanted to see the day-to-day “reality” life of a hospital, I could’ve just rented a documentary on the subject. I put a quote on the word reality as I don’t even know how accurate all the facts are as I’m not in the medical profession. But as with any TV show, a certain suspension of disbelief is acceptable, so I’m not even going to go there. What I do want to know by now is what makes each of this doctors tick. What are their passion, their pursuits, personal life crisis, anything beyond their life in the scrubs. I mean, Dr. Lee’s described as a ladies-man, but other than a couple of insinuations, they never actually show us that trait and let us draw our conclusion based on what we see. As for Andy, it’s as if Alex O’Loughlin gets the short end of the stick here when it comes to how his character is written. I find it hard to really connect with this amazingly gifted doctor. Yet I really, really want to, which is nothing short of frustrating. But you know what, I’m going to stop right there because the short preview for next week’s episode just might be the one I’ve been waiting for! How would the normally unflappable doctor would behave when his estranged wife show up? And the racial bit about a patient calling Dr. Lee ‘Yo Yo Ma?’ Intriguing to say the least!

In conclusion, I haven’t given up yet. I just hope I don’t have to repeat the same points again after next week’s episode.

The show I’ll be watching this Fall: THREE RIVERS


I haven’t been a TV watcher much, if at all, lately. I can count with my hands how many times per month I turn it on to watch a scheduled program. When I do, it’s either to watch the news, weather, or whatever happens to be on when I get on my elliptical machine. Somehow it’s almost always Two-and-a-half Men reruns, which is fine, I’d rather watch a sitcom over some stupid reality show any day. In any case, there’s finally a show I’m looking forward to this Fall with the debut of Alex O’Loughlin’s new drama since his Moonlight show on CBS got canceled.

Wow, come to think of it, Moonlight‘s the last show I regularly watched. Yes, I know, it’s not one of the best-written ones out there I got to admit. I mean, it’s not The Office or Mad Men, but hey isn’t that what guilty pleasure is? We all got one, and for a while, it was vampire detective Mick St. John and his love interest Beth (played by the very talented British actress Sophia Myles). It’s rather ironic that CBS yanked it off just as vampire fever began to hit thanks to Twilight, but you know the phrase ‘when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window?’ Well, that seems to be the case for Alex. CBS apparently has a soft spot for the Aussie actor, and having a loyal fan base from his Moonlight stint certainly can’t hurt. So they cast him as the lead in this Fall’s medical drama Three Rivers. So instead of  sucking people’s blood, he’d be saving ’em. Here’s the synopsis from the CBS site:

THREE RIVERS is a medical drama that goes inside the emotionally complex lives of organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at the preeminent transplant hospital in the country where every moment counts. However, dealing with donor families in their darkest hour and managing the fears and concerns of apprehensive recipients takes much more than just a sharp scalpel. Leading the elite team is Dr. Andy Yablonski (Alex O’Loughlin), the highly-skilled workaholic lead organ transplant surgeon, whose good-natured personality and sarcastic wit makes him popular with his patients and colleagues. His colleagues include Dr. Miranda Foster (Katherine Moennig), a surgical fellow with a rebellious streak and fiery temper who strives to live up to her deceased father’s excellent surgical reputation; Dr. David Lee (Daniel Henney), a womanizing surgical resident who’s broken as many hearts as he’s replaced; Ryan Abbott (Christopher J. Hanke), the inexperienced new transplant coordinator who arranges the intricately choreographed process of quickly and carefully transporting organs from donor to patient; Dr. Sophia Jordan, the head of surgery and a dedicated medical professional; and Pam Acosta (Justina Machado), Andy’s no-nonsense operating assistant and best friend. In this high stakes arena, in which every case is a race against the clock, these tenacious surgeons and medical professionals are the last hope for their patients.

Three Rivers stills

From the teaser clips, this one actually looks pretty decent and seems much less campy than the vampire show. I can’t judge the writing at this point, but it’s got the dignified Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard, so it can’t be that bad, right? Alex looks a heck of a lot better here without Mick’s ridiculously perfect mane only Zoolander could match. He seems more natural and at ease with his character Andy, sans the obligatory angst-y pout and stop-you-dead-in-your-track-with-my-sexy-glare pose. Well, an 85 year-old hopeless romantic vampire might be able to get away with it, but a surgeon? Not so much. So, bring on the scruff Alex, and easy on the hair gel!

Another reason to watch the show is the tall and hunky Korean-English actor Daniel Henney. I’ve only seen him in Wolverine which wasn’t exactly an ‘acting’ role, so I’m looking forward to see what he’s got to offer. I thought his role was pretty minimal—typical for Asian actors on American TV—but he’s on the marquee banners and other promos that CBS put out there, so I’m hoping he gets a pretty good amount of screen time. Who knows, maybe he’ll be such a scene-stealer he’d get his own spin-off show? One can only hope =)

Here’s the promo clip of the show:

Three Rivers launches on Sunday, October 4th. What a fabulous way to end every weekend!