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TV Review: 3 LBS

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Television audiences love a good medical show, comedy or drama; from M*A*S*H to ER, they always seem to go for the unique mix of healing and the human condition. 

3 LBS is a visually captivating show. The opening scene of a string recital is lush in its lighting and setting. We see a young woman, Cassie Mack, playing her violin superbly, accompanied by her mother on the cello. Suddenly, the girl falters and her fingers stop working properly. Next, the camera begins to slide through Cassie’s layers: clothing, dermis, subcutaneous tissue, bones, and then travels the path of nerves from her fingers to her brain.

So, we see this girl’s brain is ailing as lights flash around her gray matter. Then, the camera backs out just the same way it went in, until we see Cassie’s worried face as she, too, realizes something is very wrong. Finally, the focus settles on her violin, slowly falling out of her hands, and dropping to the floor. The beauty of the gleaming instrument striking the floor produces not only discordant sound, but image as well. Simple, but powerful. 

As the scene cuts to a busy New York street, we are jolted back to reality. Dr. Seger (Mark Feuerstein) has just arrived from the West Coast. Seger is to join a neurosurgery team headed by the famous (or infamous) Dr. Doug Hanson (Stanley Tucci). Seger is greeted by one of Hanson’s assistants, who politely, but pointedly remarks that “he’s late.” She brings him into the hospital, and as she guides him to the Neuro wing, she casually mentions the staff turnover is high on Dr. Hanson’s team and advises him not to unpack all his things just yet.

Even before Seger enters the patient conference in Dr. Hanson’s office, we already know there will be conflict, or at the least, tension. Dr. Seger has been portrayed as the empathetic eager beaver, while we’ve been made aware that his soon-to-be mentor has sent lesser men packing.

Oh, and we are not disappointed. Tucci’s Dr. Hanson is not a bad guy, nor boor, yet he states his findings and his solutions without handholding or any evident compassion. Dr. Seger senses Mrs. Mack’s growing alarm and confusion during Hanson’s discussion of her daughter’s condition, and he attempts to translate the medical terms into simpler language, and to inject a little comfort into the situation.

While Drs. Hanson and Seger prepare for a mapping procedure on Cassie, a side plot is introduced. A beautiful neurologist, Dr. Adrianne Holland (Indira Varma) is examining a patient in her office. While he submits to some standard tests, he quizzes the doctor on why she does her exams barefoot. So here, we learn that not only is Dr. Holland beautiful, but a bit eccentric as well. We also find out that her patient, Mr. Wills, has been getting lost and becoming forgetful. He also cannot distinguish between certain items when held in his hand. Dr. Holland used a fancy term for that problem; I’ll just say his tactile sense is messed up on the left side of his body.

Now we have two patients who need top-notch care, or is it three? The great Dr. Hanson is evidently mortal: he suffers from visual hallucinations, and during his brain scan (to test a new piece of equipment), an abnormality appears. He seems to be on top of his game until his patient Cassie loses her expressive language skills after he completes his mapping procedure.

Again, the creators of 3 LBS use some unique and beautiful visual techniques to illustrate Cassie’s loss of speech. There is a dreamlike scene here that is very compelling. The camera work is one of the strengths of the show, right along with the writing, direction. and acting. Feuerstein and Tucci are set up to play a bit of Good Cop/Bad Cop, but neither is drawn to such extremes.

Dr. Seger is kind and articulate, but is not above flirting with Dr. Holland, despite his acknowledgement of his girlfriend back home. On the other hand, Dr. Hanson is distant and abrupt. As much as I adore Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of the over the top grouchy Dr. House, Dr. Hanson is a bit more palatable, and is very capable of showing humanity when it is needed.

I shall not give spoilers, but there are some very intriguing twists at the end of the episode. One gives a sort of closure, and the other makes us ask more questions. Those questions, along with the fine work helmed by Peter Ocko (Boston Legal), should bring viewers back for more.

3 LBS. airs tonight (11/14 at 10:00 PM, ET) on CBS.

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About MaryKay

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    The previews of this have looked an awful lot like a House knockoff, but TWTWIM and I have liked Stanley Tucci since the first season of Murder 1 so we might have to give it a try.

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    You should Josh. At first I had that ‘clone’ feeling – but it’s very different. Interested to hear your thoughts after you see it tonight.

  • silverfangs

    I still feel that this is a paler version of House with a lot less humor and mystery. Similar structure and goodness…pseudo-House background music. When Seger ran up the stairs, I almost thought they’re going to break into Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”. Is that just me or did anyone recognize the song?

    But I’ll probably watch the show if I don’t have anything else to do after House.

  • Mark Saleski

    hmmm, it does sound like a house knockoff. but i suppose i should watch it.

    and what, you can’t take house’s personality? it’s sort of like dj radiohead staring in a tv series!

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Oh, I think House is great! I love the DJ analogy!

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Silverfangs –
    I see your point, but it’s OK that this isn’t as funny as House, or doesn’t have the mystery (like the mystery ailments) It’s not meant to be the same.

    But there is the mystery of what exactly IS wrong with Dr. Hanson, what’s up with the little girl in his hallucinations?!

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Friends was a paler version of Seinfeld with a lot less humor and that worked out okay.

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Ooohhh EL B – That was a good one, yet (forgive me) this whole ‘paler version of’ type comment sorta gets me aggrevated.

    I think perhaps sometimes people assume that one show(or CD/Movie/Book) is similiar to another, that the subsequent efforts are taken for imitations, instead of just what they are – something similar – yet not meant to be a ‘clone’.

    But the Friends comment was funny : )

  • Eve

    There was literally nothing unique about “3 lbs.” After watching the show, it looked like Les Moonves (CBS) had told Peter Ocko that he loved “House”…so could we get a similar version for CBS? There were so many aspects of “House” that were “borrowed” for “3 lbs.” that it ruined any enjoyment for me…If I was an entertainment lawyer, I would be drooling over the scene with Celia Weston (violinist’s Mom) in the elevator, where the music was almost a complete sonic copy of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”

    The entire cast of “3 lbs.” is very talented and they deserve a better premise & at least something vaguely original! As a medical TV show lover, I know there are a million other ideas they could have approached…Sheer laziness, lack of original ideas & ratings greed is Peter Ocko’s problem. This wasn’t just similar to “House,” this was bordering on copyright infringement, to my eyes!

  • Robin

    I love Stanley Tucci. I had no interest in this show until I saw he was in it. I tuned in just to see him. Unfortunately, the acting by his co-stars was soooo heinous, I couldn’t get beyond fifteen minutes. Also unfortunate was the writers need to get as much character development shoved and pushed and squeezed into that first fifteen minutes as possible, without much back up story for me to comprehend why these people were acting like such a bunch of drama queens.

    If the show lasts beyond eight episodes, I might tune in again. By then, the writers, hopefully, will have established the character traits they were looking to get in palce, and everything and everyone will have toned down some.

  • Al

    I would love for Dr Shannon Moffett to contact me sometime.
    I am a registered nurse and a personal trainer

    Al :)