By Alynda Wheat
Updated October 05, 2009 at 08:51 PM EDT

My name is Alynda and I am an organ donor. There, now everybody knows and we don’t have to go through any confusion or sticky sitches in the hospital, Three Rivers-style. What did you think of the Rivers debut, the few of you who watched it? (If you missed it, by the way, you can catch it here.) I’m still trying to decide if I’m giving it too much leeway because star Alex O’Loughlin is in my imaginary-boyfriend stable (and we’re pretty serious, with his having met my mom and all). But I’ll try to be objective.

Let’s start with the set-up: Three Rivers is about a Pittsburgh clinic with a top organ-transplant team. Since this isn’t your typical hospital show, there can’t be the usual two patient arcs. No, we need a donor and a recipient, right? So there will frequently be at least four different threads unraveling at the beginning of every episode. That’s a lot of juggling of people that, by definition, we don’t know. They’re going to need to work on streamlining those narrative arcs, because with this week’s construction chief, pregnant woman, her head-wounded husband, spelling-bee kid, and the African naif by way of Omaha, there was a lot of information floating our way, with not a lot of sense of where it was going.

Still, I’m willing to see where this show is headed—and not just because of O’Loughlin, whom I will forever remember as Moonlight’s deliciously tortured vampire Mick St. John. We could be in for some nice action sequences during sweeps, trying to get organs to recipients in time, and from my interview with O’Loughlin, his character Andy is going to be something of a rebel rock star, a Doug Ross (George Clooney) of free-floating hearts and disarticulated livers.

I’m a little worried about other characters, though, particularly Miranda Foster (The L Word‘s Katherine Moenning). In the sliver of characterization we got in the premiere, we learned her father was a hot-shot surgeon and colleague of her boss in the hospital where she’s trying to make her way. That’s a Meredith Grey alert if I’ve ever heard one and our first foray into the Procedural Chop Shop, wherein old plots, characters, and themes get busted up and sold for parts, to be used on other shows. It so did not help that she’s fighting expectations to live up to her dad, had an unhappy family life, and seems quick to make wrong-headed but well-meant decisions. Essentially, she begins to remind me of the reasons why I dropped Grey’s Anatomy a year ago. Three Rivers will get my eyeballs for one more episode, though, out of gratitude that Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) played the construction chief’s wife. But I may be in thin company—the show attracted a mere 9 million viewers Sunday night.

Law & Order

Three Rivers wasn’t our only tour through the Procedural Chop Shop, though. We had all sorts of hot parts running through the primetime schedule, particularly with L&O tossing Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) in the sack with a material witness in a case. Did that remind anyone else of the Without A Trace arc where Martin (Eric Close) boyfriended a woman who turned out to be the murderer in a case he was on? Martin’s dalliance ended up dead, while Lupo’s practically qualified for an involuntary commitment after she claimed she’d slept with every man in the courtroom, from the judge to ADA Cutter (Linus Roache). That was a disappointment, though. When she whipped around to the judge, trying to implicate him in her scheme, I thought she was boldly crafty. But when she went after Cutter, it was obvious she was just nuts. Oh well. And what did I tell you about the show trying to throw Emmy-worthy arcs the actors’ way? Epatha Merkerson was deeply affecting in talking about her cervical cancer diagnosis, however briefly. She will, however, need more space to flesh out that arc.

The Mentalist

Lisbon’s (Robin Tunney) in the Chop Shop too, y’all. She’s seeing the in-house shrink after having a gun pointed at her, not unlike Booth’s (David Boreanaz) psych sessions with Stephen Fry on Bones after he shot a clown head and dropped a dude from a window. As the previews suggest (and I can confirm, having watched the episode), she’s implicated in the murder of a pedophile she put away some years back, only she can’t remember the night it happened. Christian Clemson, a favorite of mine from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Boston Legal, plays the doc in a role that doesn’t begin to explore the limits of his range. One thing I can tell you without getting too spoilery is that Terry Kinney’s Agent Bosco gets significantly less cartoonishly malevolent in this episode, a welcome change (and a fine example for the scribes at SVU on where to take Christine Lahti’s character). It sat very ill with me that he waltzed onto the show belittling Jane (Simon Baker). He may hate Jane’s phony-psychic past, but the man is still a crime victim. A modicum of empathy would not be out of line.

The last bit of evidence out of the Chop Shop was on CSI: NY, with their Grave Digger plot. Didn’t Bones have one of those too (albeit, spelled Gravedigger)? This Grave Digger (Ally McBeal’s Greg Germann) also seemed something of a misnomer, since as a bed-ridden cancer patient he couldn’t actually dig graves. Couldn’t they have come up with something closer to his health-care reform bent? Like the Blue Crossbow? The Public Optioner? The Death Panelist? Aw heck, you try.

What did you think, Coppers? Sticking with Three Rivers? Annoyed that once again, you could see the SVU climax from a country mile away? Satisfied with Ziva’s return on NCIS, or dissatisfied with the way CSI‘s Son of Millander plot played out? And did I really hear Numb3rs correctly? Is Larry (Peter MacNicol) really leaving? Speak your minds. And hey—let’s be careful out there.

Episode Recaps

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