CBS' 'Three Rivers': As a drama, it's comical

Andy (Alex O'Loughlin ) and Sophia (Alfre Woodard) Andy (Alex O'Loughlin ) and Sophia (Alfre Woodard) try to save a college student in need of a double lung transplant on "Three Rivers." Photo Credit: CBS/SONJA FLEMMING

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THE SHOW "Three Rivers"

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WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBS/2

REASON TO WATCH "Moonlight" fans rejoice - terrific Aussie actor Alex O'Loughlin is back, though not as a vampire.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Three Rivers is a heck of a good hospital in Pittsburgh, but what it does particularly well are transplants. Hearts, livers . . . you name it, they 'plant it, thanks to spectacular surgeon Andy Yablonski (O'Loughlin). He's young, hip, handsome, and people come from around the world to get him to install new body parts. The staff in this high-tech hospital unit - which looks like the deck of the Enterprise - includes Dr. Miranda Foster (Katherine Moennig), whose father built TR but didn't give her enough love as a child; Dr. David Lee (Daniel Henney), who's at least as hunky as Yablonski; Ryan Abbott (Christopher J. Hanke), the impetuous newcomer to the unit; and Dr. Sophia Jordon (Alfre Woodard), who's the wise and wonderful leader of our group of hot surgeons.

On Sunday, a pregnant woman brings her husband in - the dolt cut his head and needs stitches - but she needs a new heart, as it turns out. Another kid wanders in off the street from Ethiopia, by way of Omaha. He needs a heart, but - current events alert - he has no insurance. No problem! Yablonski to the rescue.

BOTTOM LINE You can be reasonably certain a show may have problems if you can't decide whether it's a comedy or a drama. If comedy, then bravo, CBS! "Three Rivers" is a masterful send-up of old medical TV show conventions, dating back to the '50s, with a parade of cliches so obviously and hilariously inane that you will laugh until your side aches. And boy, you don't want to come into this hospital with a headache - if you do, the show writers will make certain you need a brain transplant.

And when Yablonski gives that knowing smile, and nods his head slowly, thoughtfully - think "Marcus Welby" - then you're just gonna fall right off the couch. Except . . . I think "Three Rivers" is a drama.

Oops. I'm sorry, O'Loughlin fans. This isn't the post-"Moonlight" comeback any of us were looking for.

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GRADE C-

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