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TV Preview: 3 Lbs.

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Here’s the setup: An old, extremely poor hospital is kept afloat by the department of one doctor, a neurosurgeon. The fact that he’s able to keep the entire place afloat and is absolutely brilliant allows him to be a complete jerk to the vast majority of people he comes in contact with, be they patients or colleagues. He would certainly argue against any of his co-workers being referred to as “peers” as he’s so far ahead of them. The doctor in question is also troubled by his own inner demons and possible medical issues.

No, his name is not House; House isn’t a neurosurgeon, he’s an infectious disease specialist, but other than that, there are certainly valid comparisons to be made. In this case, the doctor in question is Doug Hanson, played by the generally superb Stanley Tucci, in CBS’s new medical drama, 3 Lbs.

Hanson is ably assisted by the “new guy” at the hospital, Jonathan Seger (Mark Feuerstein), and by Dr. Adrianne Holland (Indira Varma). Even though Tucci may be the star, the story is told mainly through the eyes of Seger — we are introduced to the hospital and its intricacies at the same time he is. Seger, if you will, plays the heart to Hanson’s brain. It quickly becomes clear that it is Seger’s job to explain to the patients the details of the surgeries and the diseases as Hanson is far too busy stoking his ego. Feuerstein plays his part well, even if his “fish-out-of-water” character feels moderately bland. It is unclear what earns Seger the right to be in this most prestigious neural program.

Hanson, on the other hand, is quite clearly made out to be the best in his field, and would happily tell anyone as much. Interestingly, this aspect of Hanson’s character is slightly lessened in the third episode of the season. He seems to greatly care for a return patient he treats in this episode. He still absolutely believes he can beat the odds and save a patient in a cutting-edge surgery, but he is happy to take the time to explain the procedure to her and even goes on a walk with her to do so, rather than rushing through it in his office.

This softening of his character so early on feels very much at odds with what the audience is presented in the first episode. There is a single scene in the premiere that indicates he treats some patients with more respect than he initially shows, but it doesn’t come out as one of the stronger scenes in the pilot. On the whole, this aspect of his character does make Hanson far more of a three dimensional individual instead of a gross caricature of a surgeon.

As for Holland, she is more interested in diagnosing and studying neurological diseases and disorders and attempting to avoid surgery (presumably much to Hanson’s chagrin).  Her character is not as well drawn at this point as that of Feuerstein’s or Tucci’s. She does have a storyline in the third episode that revolves around her falling for one of her patients, but outside of that breach of ethics, and some flirting with Seger early in the first episode, we are mostly left to wonder as to her character. One hopes her personal life and character will involve to be more than just about those men she falls for (not that Seger’s or Hanson’s is much more at this point either).

The last of the four series' regulars is Dr. Flores, played by Armando Riesco. Though his part does grow moderately from episode to episode, at this point, not much about him can be determined at all, save that he exists. He doesn’t seem to do anything more on the show than monitor the vitals of patients and keep an eye on patients’ families. 

The show is quite flashy, and opens with a fantastic computer-generated effect illustrating the neural problem of the main patient in the first episode. The second and third episodes open with similar scenes, and while they don’t quite elucidate the disease or issue, they do make for some pretty spiffy television. As it is stated early on in the series, Hanson’s portion of the hospital makes money hand over fist, allowing them to have the fanciest and finest of machinery to use and abuse. There are times when it feels as though the machinery exists far more for the televisual factor than for the medical benefit (touch-screen MRI/CT scan monitors, for instance). Even so, it does work on screen.

Between Tucci, Feuerstein, Varma, and its flashy look, 3 Lbs. certainly has enough going for it early on to intrigue audiences. It looks and feels like a fun, interesting show, even if I’m convinced much of the “cutting-edge” medicine is more pipe dream than practical. The first three episodes absolutely have the ability to captivate. The medical portions are not terribly dramatic at this point, the outcomes of the cases are clear well in advance of their resolution in the script, but there is still enough pomp and circumstance present to provide interest.

3 Lbs. premieres Tuesday night, November 14, at 10 pm on CBS.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • Lindsay

    Does anyone know the song in the final few scenes?? “…and I’ll fix you…” Thank you

  • Sorry, I don’t. Not my strong suit.

  • Lindsay

    Any idea where I can find out?

  • I would check the CBS website for the show, IMDb, and the full credits for the program tonight when it airs.

  • It’s Coldplay, from X&Y, called Fix You, oddly enough!

  • Does anyone know the name of the music that is played by the String
    Quartet at the beginning of the first episode of “3 lbs.” ? It can be heard (not Cold Play)

  • dude

    yeah what was that song? Is there a list of the songs used in the show, they had some other good ones too.

  • The song is Perpetuum Mobile by The Penguin Cafe Orchestra.


  • brian

    Yes, Penguin Cafe Orchestra is the one in the beginning when the girl is playing the violin and the coldplay song is the other one.. Both very good songs and both available on iTunes. I just downloaded them.. Also, whats up with the 4th episode, the website said it should have been on tuesday december 5th but never was..??

  • The 4th episode never aired because CBS has pulled the series. They may dump the rest of the episodes at another point, but I’d doubt it.

  • I figured I’d start watching in the second season — if it lasted. I’m glad I didn’t invest the time. :-/

  • Kyle

    Well Tuesday @10PM ain’t exactly the best slot. I watched the first ep free of Itunes thought it was pretty sick, as is that intro song in the first ep.

  • Care

    You have no idea how long I’ve been looking for that opening song (string trio) in the first episode. Thanks for your posts!

  • TigerClaw

    Hey yo! The name of the starting song you were asking about is “Calling All Angels” by Train