TNT's Hawthorne begins season three tonight with "For Better or Worse." Christina (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Tom (Michael Vartan) barely get through their "I do's" before having to rush off to work because of a neighbor's car wreck. At the end of the day, Christina is beat up badly in the parking lot. Tom convinces Brenda (Anne Ramsay) to do multiple risky procedures to try to save their baby, though Cat (Lauren Velez, Dexter) refuses. The baby dies anyway, and Christina insists on pushing it out, rather than having it removed. Nick (Marc Anthony, now a series regular) hunts, and eventually finds, her attacker. With Christina down, Morrissey (James Morrison) immediately and permanently replaces her as CNO with Bobbie (Suleka Mathew). After learning Bobbie has accepted the position, Steve (Adam Rayner) decides not to propose to her, as he has planned on doing. Candy (Christina Moore) returns to the hospital and delivers her own baby.
Given that Hawthorne begins as a standard procedural, there is no reason to watch the beginning of the series. This episode, however, is excellent, and if it representative of what the show has become, then Hawthorne deserves another chance. The story may be somewhat self contained, but also plays on larger arcs about relationships and pregnancies. There is a real focus on the characters and their various bonds rather than on a case of the week. With the slew of medical series currently on the air, this is the way to distinguish a show from its peers.
While Smith is perhaps not the best actress around, especially in the scene where she silently pushes out her dead baby, she is surrounded by a number of wonderful actors who will make viewers mostly forget her shortcomings, at least for this episode. Keeping her confined to a hospital bed likely helps. It remains to be seen whether being at the center of such a huge loss, speaking of the baby, will find Smith up to the task or not. Vartan, too, shows the limited range he demonstrates on Alias, but to his credit, it seems more a part of his character, rather than bad acting.