Tuned In: 'Saved' needs a lifeline
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TNT had a surprise hit last summer with "The Closer," which returns for its second season Monday at 9 p.m., and the basic cable network is counting on "Closer" viewers to stay tuned for the new paramedic drama "Saved" (10 p.m. Monday). Perhaps they will, but "Saved" doesn't offer much reason to tune in. It's not atrocious, just sort of bland ? the kind of show we've watched a million times before. Producers try to add some grit by having lead character Wyatt Cole (Tom Everett Scott) use profanity and playfully give his partner, John "Sack" Hallon (Omari Hardwick), the middle finger.
Wyatt is an EMT by day, gambler by night who's $10,000 in debt to his flamboyant bookie. Naturally, he's a smart aleck who taunts the guy he beats at cards, leading to a fight, which results in Tom having to check his attacker's injuries.
"Call 911!" the guy says.
"Hey [not a nice word for a terminus of the human excretory system]," Wyatt snaps, "You need a road map? I am 911!"
Wyatt's dad (David Clennon) is a doc who wants to see his son go back to medical school, and Wyatt does consider it, but usually he can be heard bragging to docs, "We do everything you do ? we just do it at 60 mph."
Since his debut in "That Thing You Do," Scott has been a likable actor in search of the perfect role. He certainly gets Wyatt's sympathetic bedside manner down pat, but when Wyatt's acting tough or obnoxious or self-destructive (which is most of the time), the character seems too well constructed. He seems like a TV character, not a flesh and blood person.
Blame the script by series creator David Manson, which also indulges in TV-cute plots, like the mentally ill patient who steals an ambulance. Wyatt and Sack laugh like hyenas and there's never any consequence. Only on TV.
Similarly, the story of Sack's attempt to buy a birthday gift for the son he once abandoned is treacly and trite. And Wyatt's attempt to rebuild a relationship with Dr. Alice Alden (Elizabeth Reaser) is rote as well (he sees love as a risk, she sees it as a commitment).
In this "CSI" era, every show needs a gimmick, and "Saved" has a pretty decent one to demonstrate how folks in need of urgent medical care sustained their injuries. Set to a heartbeat, viewers see frame-by-frame flashbacks that show how the person came to need assistance. It's a smart shorthand approach ? too bad the time saved on these back stories isn't put to better use developing the show's main characters.
'Tuesday Night Book Club'
Call it "The Real Housewives of Scottsdale." This rip-off of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Orange County" is one of the more awful projects to hit CBS prime time in years.
Though "Tuesday Night Book Club" (10 p.m. Tuesday) looks like a reality show and claims to be the story of real women who meet once a week to discuss a book and their lives, it's way too over-produced. It's telling that CBS never calls it a reality show in its press notes, instead referring to it as a "real-life drama" and insisting the women are real as are the situations in their lives. But the camera placement and lighting sure seem staged.
Regardless, the women are all problem-plagued. Newlywed Lynn fights constantly with her mook husband ("It's your ring, you lost it," he tells her when his dog swallows her ring. "You're digging through the poop."). Kirin, who's painted as similar to Bree Van De Kamp on "Desperate Housewives," strives for perfection. Jenn and her husband swap sexual partners. Cris worries about her husband's alcohol addiction, but she's addicted to adopting animals, including a skunk. And Jamie wants to leave her husband. Though her reasons are never clear, Tina, the divorced book club leader, encourages her to end the marriage anyway.
If you're entertained by a bunch of ill-behaved exhibitionist women and the men who make them cry, join the "Club." Otherwise, read a book.
First Published June 11, 2006 12:00 am