TV Reviews: More of the same

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"3 Lbs."
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
Starring: Stanley Tucci
"Day Break"
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Starring: Taye Diggs
   

Prime-time series that premiered less than two months ago continue to fall victim to the cancellation ax, so the replacements are already being called on to join the schedule.

After just three weeks, CBS canceled heist drama "Smith" and this week replaces it with the anti-"Smith," "3 Lbs." (10 p.m. Tuesday), another plot-driven, procedural "House" clone.

Already this fall we've seen two House-as-a-lawyer shows ("Justice" on Fox and "Shark" on CBS), but "3 Lbs." doesn't even bother to take the brilliant-but-socially-inept-professional concept out of the hospital.

Stanley Tucci stars in "3 Lbs." as brilliant neurosurgeon Doug Hanson, who compares the inner workings of the brain to "wires in a box." Hanson treats patients with the same callous disregard a computer technician would treat a machine ("3 Lbs." refers to the average weight of the human brain).

Enter his new protege, Dr. Jonathan Seger (Mark Feuerstein), a kinder, gentler doctor who holds the hands of patients and their loved ones and promises a patient who babbles incoherently, "I'll get your words back."

Naturally, the touchy-feely doc and the shrewd doc butt heads.

Just as "Shark" softens the "House" concept by giving James Woods' lawyer a teenage daughter for the occasional moment that reveals he's not such a bad guy deep down, "3 Lbs." shows Hanson imagining his daughter as a patient. These moments are meant to counteract the icy-cold Hanson who questions God's role in medicine, saying, "Why am I fixing His mistakes?"

Make no mistake, "3 Lbs." is a show that will better appeal to the CBS audience than "Smith" did, but it's a pretty generic show.

'Day Break'

ABC had always planned to pull "Lost" and replace it with "Day Break" (9 p.m. Wednesday), resting "Lost" now so that when it returns in February it can air without interruption or repeats.

But if fans are frustrated by how slowly the story moves on "Lost" and if they don't care for reruns, is there really much hope that they'll get hooked on "Day Break," a show that's essentially "Groundhog Day" with a murder conspiracy?

Taye Diggs, so charming on UPN's short-lived "Kevin Hill," stars in "Day Break" as Det. Brett Hopper, who wakes in bed with girlfriend Rita (Moon Bloodgood) and begins his day. It starts with a shaving accident and only gets worse as he's arrested for the murder of an assistant district attorney and winds up face down in dirt on the floor of a quarry where a mysterious figure shows him video footage of Rita being shot. He's given a sedative and then wakes up back in bed, an alive Rita at his side, and he re-starts the same day.

Each time he begins the day anew, Hopper is armed with a little more information about the conspiracy that seeks to implicate him in murder (no one else is aware of Hopper's rerun mania). In Wednesday's two-hour premiere, Hopper relives the same day four times. In next week's episode, it's the same day two more times.

Initially, the repetition is tedious. It's not until next week's episode that the story has some forward momentum. Producers throw action scenes into the premiere (a bus crash, a fight in an elevator between Hopper and Rita's scummy ex-, played by Adam Baldwin), but the audience is as confused as Hopper and too many things repeat themselves in overly similar ways. By next week's episode, there's more variety and pieces of the puzzle begin to come into better focus, but will viewers have the patience to wait that long? I doubt it.

Viewers have already shown they're fed up with dark brooding shows this fall. That's why "Grey's Anatomy" is beating "CSI," why "Ugly Betty" is a hit and the dark "Smith" was a flop.

"Day Break" is both dark and frustrating. So far there's no explanation why Hopper keeps reliving the same day.

Diggs is immensely likable as a TV star, and I'm sure someday he'll find the right vehicle, but "Day Break" is another TV show that seems like it would work better as a one-shot movie like the upcoming Denzel Washington repeat-the-day thriller "Deja Vu."


TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A.


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