If you’re going to get youself an organ transplant, pray you wind up at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers hospital.
It’s the Hilton of hospitals.
This place is so decked out you even get 1000 channels on the TV in your private room. They might all be tuned to CBS, but hey don’t let that put you off.
In this most shiny of television hospitals the transplant wing of Three Rivers has it all. Big screen monitors, lots of glass, wood panelling and more lights than a Christmas tree. When it isn’t attending to medical patients it could well be refuelling the Starship Enterprise.
The title draws upon the river lifelines of the city of Pittsburgh: the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, which doubles as a neat metaphor for the human heart.
The opening sequence of this drama begins with two medical cases (one is in Cleveland) as a construction foreman has a fatal accident and a schoolboy faints during a Spelling Bee. It’s the kind of set-up common to House, or more aptly, a crime or legal drama. Here they are decidedly hurried, frenetic and histrionic. With its driving soundtrack and zippy edits this is a long way from Dr. Kildare.
A fourth patient will prove to be a pregnant woman in need of a heart transplant while a fourth is an Ethiopian man who walks into Three Rivers seeking out Dr. Andy Yablonski (Moonlight‘s Alex O’Loughlin). With just six months to live, he declares, “This is the best transplant hospital in the United States, and you are the best transplant doctor here.” Backstory solved. But I’m already getting the feeling there won’t be enough hearts to go around.
In the centre of the hospital is an open plan office for our surgeons and nurses. Again it resembles the desks of citybeat cops: ringing phones, hurried extras, handheld cameras, everything but warning, “let’s be careful out there.”
Calm prevails in a high-tech situation room overseen by hospital boss Dr. Sophia Jordan (Desperate Housewives’ Alfre Woodard) and a bunch of white coat young docs. Here Dr. Yablonski lays out the medical case of one of our patients, aided by a glass wall that doubles as some sort of hologram powerpoint show. How much are the medical fees for this place again?
Filling out the central characters are Dr. Miranda Foster (The L Word‘s Katherine Moennig) and Dr. David Lee (Daniel Henney). Foster demonstrates she doesn’t like to work by the book, but has a caring nature. Lee is a go-getter, charged with retrieving the heart from Cleveland against the racing clock. The pilot, reportedly the second shot, is noticably devoid of imposed sexual tension.
After its uneven start, this drama settles down, thanks largely to O’Loughlin adding some earthiness to the panicky tone. It could well be an indication of the series as a whole. Moennig too is reason for optimism.
Whether Three Rivers proves too earnest remains to be seen. And whether in a crowded genre it can find a point of difference -other than its super-duper medical wing- is also a question racing against a ticking clock.
With Dr. House waiting in the wings this may need to find character quick smart or TEN could transplant them.
Three Rivers airs 9:30pm Wednesday on TEN.