TELEVISION REVIEW: Three Rivers – Great Cast; Terrible Show!

It’s been barely a week-and-a-half since I wrote about the best pilot of the fall network TV season [No More good days, the pilot for ABC’s Flash Forward]. Now I have to write about the worst of the fall’s network offerings. How bad is it? As I watched the premiere ep of Three Rivers [CBS, Sundays, 9/8C], the thought that ran through my mind was, “This is the show they’ve been developing to showcase Alex O’Loughlin? This is the show that they wanted so badly that they re-wrote and partially recast it to showcase Alex O’Loughlin?”

three rivers 01

Three Rivers does get your attention quickly enough – with a hyperspeed montage that suggests CSI, or some other forensics-based cop show, rather than a medical series. And we get O’Loughlin’s Dr. Andy Yablonski almost immediately after we meet this week’s cases. That he’s in the ER instead of surgery [he’s allegedly the best heart transplant surgeon around] isn’t really that big a deal – except for the fact that it would probably never happen. He also delivers a baby via C-section. He’s Superdoc!

The cases involve Terry [Hillary Tuck] a pregnant woman whose heart goes to hell in a handbasket after she brings her husband in for stitches earned working on a nursery for their impending newborn; and Auden [Cameron Monaghan], a boy who coughed up blood at a spelling bee – and eats metal!

Naturally, a heart becomes available for Teri – improbable because of a rare blood type – and, equally naturally, the family has a change of heart about donating the organ [because they fear the declaration of the donor as brain dead has come about because he is of Middle Eastern origin]. At least they didn’t have to fly the heart back to Three Rivers in a hurricane, like in the original pilot.

In Auden’s case, Dr. Miranda Foster [Katherine Moening] wonders aloud to his father [Spencer Garrett] if the problem might be caused by an absentee parent – Auden’s mother is often away on business. Dad, of course, reacts badly to the suggestion and Dr. Foster is made aware by the hospital’s head of administration, Dr. Sophia Jordan [Alfre Woodard in a thankless role] that she was out of line. Which leads directly to a conversation with Auden that gives Dr. Foster the clue she needs to help him.

There are other regular characters, but they seem to be there primarily for decoration – or to force issues by being loud and rude [again, thankless roles – though perhaps only in the premiere]. And we haven’t even discussed Kuol [Owiso Odera] the young Ethiopian man who needs a heart transplant and seems to have taken up residence in the hospital! [He does, however, give the ep a measure of dignity that it doesn’t deserve…]

The problem is that Three Rivers [the premiere, at least] is predictable, and the characters stereotypical. It doesn’t help that Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Hospital looks more like the interior of a starship than an early 21st Century hospital. It doesn’t help that the writing is less than pedestrian, either.

All the lighting, beautiful sets and talented actors in the world can’t disguise the fact that Three Rivers is well worth the time you take to avoid it. That’s harsh, but even O’Loughlin, Moening and Woodard can’t make this series worth watching and it’s actually painful to watch the guest cast – particularly Garrett and Marina Sirtis – try to make the material work.

Frankly, CBS should never have cancelled Moonlight.

Final Grade: D


  1. I knew this would happen. CBS cannot appease the loyal fans of Moonlight's Mick St.John by casting this talented actor in a show that was doomed before it began especially with all the hype about it. I had a strong feeling from the beginning this would be the outcome. I'm still going to remain optimistic but my heart's not in it. Moonlight should have continued, besides Sophia Myles, who I had never seen before, is an excellent actress and they had such chemistry. There are very few shows that I looked forward to as much as I did with Moonlight. Such a shame, hopefully one of the networks will do Alex O'Laughlin justice soon, very soon :'(

    1. You are so right. What is with that chick, girl, doctor, whatever. She reminded me of that surly actress from Twilight. I wanted to knock her on her behind the entire show. They never should have cancelled Moonlight. If you like Sophia Myles, rent Underworld with Kate Beckinsale. Sophia is in that flick. BRING BACK MOONLIGHT. THAT SHOW COULD BLOW ANY CURRENT VAMPIRE SERIES OUT OF THE WATER. I worked in a Seattle trauma hospital that also served patients in 4 other states as well. With the time required to actually treat patients let alone coordinate transplants, health care providers don't have time for the inappropriate crap we saw on this new show. I thought the series finale of ER had a much more interesting story line with Doug Ross and Carol Hathoway as the transplant coordinators at a Seattle Hospital. That was grounded in reality. The prognosis for this series is very poor.

  2. Yeah, too bad none of these critics who are now saying that CBS should have never cancelled Moonlight weren't supporting us when it got cancelled!

  3. I saw a video clip of Three Rivers and it seems good, but nothing great and, yes, just more of the same doctor stuff. Just because the plot involves a slight twist and focuses on organ transplantation only does not send it a cut above other medical shows. But, time will tell. And, yes, I thoroughly agree with Steph…Moonlight should never have been cancelled. That show was original and the cast was great! I never missed an episode. I have introduced my friends and colleagues to Moonlight via DVD and EVERY one who has watched it falls in love and canot believe it was cancelled. What a terrible mistake Joel Silver and CBS made.

  4. I believe Three Rivers is a great show. We should let a chance to the show to grow up. I can't wait to see Alex as Abdy Yablonski

  5. I could not agree more with either Steph & Bloodlink. I was a HUGE fan of Moonlight. Like most, I had never heard of any of the cast when it began. But it was the premise of the storyline that grabed my and had me coming back week after week.
    I was not part of the Internet fandom from the beginning. I did not discover it until May 17, 2008. That was the day I learned ML had been canceled. Prior to that day, I had NEVER visited an actor's fan created pages or posted on any kind of message board. But MOONLIGHT was different in innumerable ways. OK, sure, I have always been into VAMPIRES since I was a child. I used to race home from school to watch Dark Shadows. But even given that fact, it was not just the Vampire genre that kept me coming back week after week. No, it was the storytelling. It was the chemistry between the cast members. It was the underlying messages of Friendship, Romance, Honesty, Integrity, Tolerance, Loyalty, Respect, Acceptance…and more!!!
    I am sick to death of all of the TV programming that shows us at our worst. You know what I'm talking about…Voting someone off of a show, showing people bed hopping and sleeping with each others spouses… In short, the cruelty of mankind. But MOONLIGHT did not fit that tired mold. Finally we had a show that encouraged us to learn more about those that seemed different from ourselves. Ages 8 – 80 sat together on FRIDAY evenings to watch. They were unaware that lessons were being taught. Young men were being shown how to treat a lady. Young women were being shown how they should expect be treated by a gentleman. How refreshing that was.
    Then, for reasons that make little or no sense to me, Moonlight was ripped from our grasp. Sure TPTB are promoting the heck out of 3Rs. Had they done the same and people actually new MOONLIGHT existed, we might be telling a much different story today. So, as many articles have already stated, Moonlight should never have been canceled.
    I am not wishing an early departure for 3Rs. But if that happens, I just hope that CBS can and will eat enough crow to admit their error and give us back what we want. And what we want is MOONLIGHT back as a weekly series. Short of that, we would be content with a MOONLIGHT movie.

    1. LadyHawke2006
      I love you. You said it. There is nothing left to say. Everyone admits it was a mistake to cancel. What's the problem bring it back somewhere somehow. Make a movie bring the series back. The critics say zero chance, but I say why? Look at how many people on this site alone is asking for its return now count up all the other sites. This is what the viewing public wants. Hello, any network executives or movie executives ever read these posts. We don't want TR. We want Moonlight. There is alread an established fan base that you don't need to try to build. Be smart. bring it back1!!!

  6. moonlight was really good. this show is going to be a failure.

  7. This is so sad… I am a huge Moonlight fan, but I don't want Three Rivers to tank.. Alex has worked hard to get where he is now. That being said CBS should have known better than to try to showcase Alex's talents in a Medical Drama… it's so generic.. what made us love Alex in Moonlight was that his character was different. Despite his many tallents you can't put Alex in just any show and he will immediately shine… it was the whole cast of Moonlight that made the fans love it… Alex by himself would not be the same. The producers of Three Rivers had better figure out a way to make people love the characters in the show.. because if you don't care about the characters, well you're not going to come back week after week to watch them…

    1. I, too, was disappointed with Three Rivers, at least in last night's initial episode. Such potential with the great actors involved, an interesting premise, and the $$$$ and weight of CBS behind it . . . i'm a big Alex O'Loughlin fan, too . . . couldn't quite figure out why the show didn't exactly work. We should have been hooked by an initial episode.
      Well, I'll give it one or two other chances.

  8. I have to disagree, The cast is amazing, specially the talented Alex O'Loughlin, and Three Rivers will be an amazing show!

  9. I am not shocked by the shoddy reviews of Three Rivers. I would say at least 95% OR MORE of these reviews come from men.Give me a break. Unfortunately, most men, and I am married to one, cannot see the woods through the trees. Nor do they care. Give them sports (including women'e college volleyball (how boring!) with plenty 'o shots of girls' behinds…and they are happy and oblivious.) I daresay the reviewers of Three Rivers mostly fall into this category.I loved the premiere (actually, episode 3). The drama kept me intrigued. Katherine Moennig was amazing. Truly. She was great! Alfre Woodard was really good, too. I think she adds so much to the cast…her thoughtfulness and heart come shining through.

    1. Al was really terrific. I thought he played the part of Andy Yoblonski perfectly. Kudos to you, Alex. You did a great job and I will be tuning in every week to see the next medical drama unfold.
      CJ Wills

  10. Let's give Three Rivers a chance people.

  11. WOW I was really looking forward to a great medical show, but even my high school nephew was asking me if that is what really happens in a hospital, to which I could only cover my face in shame and say no, no, no. Really, you have a chance to create a great show and educate the public on critical choices they make, shame on you for not hiring a medical professional, and I don't mean some nurse from a peds office, but a real nurse that has done chest compressions, that knows that you never, ever, ever shock someone in asystole, (just so you know you put on pacer pads and give atropine and epi) and no hospital in the western hemisphere uses paddles, I mean really. . . you have a computer screen on a window, and you still treat a code blues like it is something out of the 50s. You have the gift of educating the public and prehaps straighten out some of the wrongs that have been created by grey's anantomy, but heck i think you bought their playbook.

  12. CBS, what were you thinking? You ditched Mick for Andy? I so wanted this to be good . . . Keep dreaming it sucks! I love Alex because he is one of the best in the businees, but unfortunately this show is simply said . . . not! I don't know if shows have ever been brought back, but I certainly, along with millions of others would like to see Moonlight back! TV needs variety, which is what Moonlight had, "a little something for everyone."

  13. I suspect the actor-centric fans are going to want to stone me for what I am about to say ,but at least I have the guts to stand up and state my opinions despite the backlash. First off let me just state for the record that while I am an Alex fan I am not actor-centric.

    I watched Moonlight for the whole package Yes the vampire element of the show hooked me right away but what kept me coming back was all of the actors , the storylines that were being told, the music, the beautiful sets not just Alex O'Loughlin. So I guess I'm in the minority from the AOL Groupies because Three Rivers did nothing for me. Yes tonight marked Alex's return to television and I knoe evertone has been waiting to see it but I have to agree wuth the majority of the critics about Three Rivers.

    My opinion Alex's scenes looked forced there is no chemistry between the cast. The sets look like something out of Star Trek, they are not realistic looking, no hospital that I've been in looks like that. Next weeks episode looks bland compared to tonight's Episide 2 that aired in place of the reshot pilot.

    Sorry but I think Alex deserves much better then this crap he's been given by CBS. While I agree that organ donation is an important story that does need to be told Three Rivers seems to be a poor attempt to combine medical shows like Greys Anatomy, ER, House and Heartland into one show. While premise sounds good on paper. It doesn't seem to flow on screen, it just doesn't work.

    I have to agree with the majority of my fellow Die Hard Moonlight Fans and the critics that CBS should bring back Moonlight.

  14. I too am feeling bad for Alex…this show is boring. When Moonlight came on it had me from the opening vampire interview and just drew me in week after week with a great cast and great chemistry. I am trying to support Alex but this show was truly bad – they should have never cancelled Moonlight – it was People Choice at the awards show but that stupid Nina Tassler or whatever her name is cancelled it – she should be fired….there was no chemistry between Alex and this new cast and it just looked like Alex was going through the motions…he has said in interviews that when Moonlight was cancelled he went to Mexico – well my friend I am afraid you will be seeing mexico again real soon ….just bring back Moonlight or give this show a facelift

  15. What a HUGE disappointment about transplant, it was a farce. Get rid of the Hollywood rewriters, and get your facts, if you did, you would have a great reality drama. Who has a heart transplant and only needs a nasal canula in recovery?????

  16. Interesting comments people. This IS Hollywood folks – not reality – entertainment. How many medical shows are total reality? None that I am aware of, some you just laugh at (but remember – entertainment, after all). I work for a hospital. Would we watch if they portrayed what actually happens – not the hospitals I have worked in (prestigious even). Have witnessed a similar storyline to pregnant patient. Was it all reality on the show, no. Were there correlations, absolutely. It takes a lot of time and energy to put a show together of this magnitude – actors, producers, etc. Say you work long and hard on a project – think about how you would feel about some of the comments presented here if it were your project. Loved Alex in Moonlight. He did a fine job on this show. I’ll keep watching.

  17. This is not a vampire show. It's like comparing apples to butter.

  18. I agree with Marian – this show was boring. There was not one single thing in the show that I didn't see coming a mile away and I can't imagine that week after week someone will need a new heart and one will become immediately available. There is no bigger fan for Alex O'Loughlin on the planet than me, but he needs better than this. He also needs more air time and air time without the surgical mask and eye thingies. Underneath all that stuff, he might as well be Bozo the Clown. Here is the sexiest man on Earth and CBS has covered him head to foot in clothing!
    I also agree with everyone who said that Moonlight was such a special and unique show — this is a doctor show, no matter what the "very important" message is.
    I will keep watching the show because of Alex, but I don't have great hopes for its future.

  19. another medical show BORING
    CBD never should have cancelled moonlight it was well ahead of the new vampcraze

  20. I'm actually shocked that anyone liked the show. As a heart Transplant patient myself, I have to say that nothing I saw at this state of the art hospital even comes remotely close to the staff, care and professionalism at my hospital (Strong Memorial, Rochester, NY). The transplant coordinator is an absolute farce as the transplant coordinator is a professional RN and well versed in medicine. The writing of the show is basically a slap in the face to those who actually work doing this.

    1. Boy you got that right, I was a transplant coordinator for more than 4 years and I can't not belive how wrong they got everthing. I love Alex and soooo hoped that they would make organ transplant something that non medical people could understand and become something they would consider doing. The process takes hours, I have worked up to 30 hours stright to make everything come together. The donor family is giving such a gift and we do everything we can to help them through this time. They screwed it up so badly. I hope that they do not have the nerve to show any more episoids.

  21. I guess CBS thought sticking Alex O'Loughlin would work. He's clearly not the right person, and the writing for his character only makes him annoying. The editing was atrocious with the random green, red, yellow montage crap before the commercials. Full review of the episode.

  22. I was a big Moonlight fan, and only watched the Three Rivers premiere to see Alex O'Loughlin. However, the show was a big snooze. Hopefully, the character Andy has some tragic flaw that we haven't yet seen. This is what made Alex's character on Moonlight so fascinating–he yearned to be mortal and that underlying desire to find a way back to his mortal self was the thematic engine of the show. Solving the crimes, the love relationship, etc. were fun and exciting, but the character had a primary motivation that was very compelling. We have no idea why this Dr. Andy chose his professional, anything about his relationships, family, etc. (or if these things were mentioned, it slipped by me). He seemed vacant as a character–too perfect which is boring. So he was late to meetings and grabbed a cinnamon role–wow what a rebel. I agree with the earlier post that I found it ridiculous that a highly touted transplant surgeon would have done the C-section… I also agree that I found the rest of the cast wanting, and can't see any potential love interest for Alex's character.

    I think if they want to give Alex O. a showcase, they should set up a feature film for Moonlight (like Sex & the City). I'll bet it would be a great financial success, and help this talented, sexy actor move beyond dreck like the predictable, bland Three Rivers.

  23. Whoops, I meant cinnamon roll! I guess it was a Freudian slip–this character "role" is about as complex and interesting as a flaky pastry. 🙂

  24. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Moonlight was the gold standard for Vampire shows. Unfortunately execs at CBS thought they could trade in on Alex O'Loughlin's popularity and skills as an actor to pull off Three Rivers. Unfortunately, the best actor in the world cannot over come poor writing. What CBS failed to realize is that it had a diamond in its hand when it had Moonlight. It was slick, sophisticated, witty and innovative. It was produced, written, directed and acted superbly. While being the show's principal star, Mr. O'Loughlin didn't carry the show all by himself. He had incredible back-up. Whoever was responsible for casting was a genius. The chemistry among the characters was magical. I remember really looking forward to Friday night so I could see what was going to happen next and I was never disappointed. I didn't know any of the actors in Moonlight when I watched the first episode. By the end of the first episode, I was hooked and by the end of the third episode, I was in love, not only with Mick St. John but the whole Moonlight package. CBS did a grave disservice to all who were a part of Moonlight, the fans and now I fear especially to Alex O'Loughlin. The concept of Three Rivers is noble but the fact is CBS pulled him from a show that was really outstanding and put him in one that appears to be mediocre and bland. CBS you shouldn't have canceled Moonlight.

  25. If I rememebr correctly, it was AO who chose this show to STAR in…bad move Alex .It stunk. And I am a woman!

  26. I think everyone should give TR a chance. True is not ML but this is a different type of show. Everyone is comparing this show to ML. Alex is great in both of them. The show is still young, give it a chance!

  27. I was really excited to see three rivers,especially,since I'm a alex fan and I loved monnlight but although I will continue to watch three rivers its NEVER gonna be "moonlight" cbs shoulda never cancelled the show,BIG MISTAKE!!!!!!

  28. Good idea about a Moonlight movie and then bring it back on TV again with the same cast. Alex was hotter in that. The new hair style in 3 Rivers is a waste of Alex's great hair.. I didn't even know they had cancelled Moonlight until I had read it was a done deal. And they need to schedule the show earlier if possible. 9:00 on Sunday night is a little late for working people.

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