By Ken Tucker
Updated November 22, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST
Gideon's Crossing: April V. Tucker

Gideon's Crossing

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It was inevitable that a show would come along and say, in effect, ”Hold on a second; slow down” — that’s what Gideon’s Crossing does. Created by Paul Attanasio, who cocreated ”Homicide: Life on the Street” as well as writing intricately satisfying screenplays for films like ”Quiz Show” and ”Donnie Brasco,” ”Gideon’s Crossing” also bucks the ensemble show trend by building the series around Attanasio’s former ”Homicide” star, Andre Braugher. The actor now portrays Dr. Benjamin Gideon, the chief of experimental medicine in a — well, whaddya know — Boston hospital, albeit a more prosperous one than St. Eligius.

By making Ben Gideon the head of a teaching hospital, Attanasio created the opportunity for Braugher to use his grave, grandly expressive voice to deliver long speeches to a classroom of awestruck medical students. Unfortunately, what Attanasio intends as a showcase — a gift to both his star and his audience — ends up making Gideon seem like a boring gasbag. When Gideon issues a pronunciamento such as ”What separates us from the animals is mystery” or ”What really exists between two people is something we can never really quite know,” I invariably expect the camera to cut to a room full of snoring interns. Instead, they are rapt, and Gideon is bathed in glowing light, like a god, which only makes him harder to like.

”Gideon’s Crossing” is getting whomped in the ratings by the venerable ”Law & Order.” So far this season, ”L&O”’s scripts have been subpar, and I’d like to recommend that its deservedly loyal fans take a break and check out ”Gideon,” but I’ll do that only when Attanasio and his staff bring the saintly Gideon back to earth and give the strong supporting cast (whose real treasures are Kevin J. O’Connor as a wiggy, eccentric oncologist and Sophie Keller as a lab rat loving intern) more screen time.

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Gideon's Crossing

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