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‘9-1-1’ review: Clichés galore, but still watchable

Oliver Stark, Peter Krause, Aisha Hinds and Angela

Oliver Stark, Peter Krause, Aisha Hinds and Angela Bassett in "9-1-1." Credit: FOX / Richard Foreman Jr.

THE SERIES “9-1-1”

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Fox/5

WHAT IT’S ABOUT In Los Angeles, there are hundreds of 9-1-1 calls every day. This is the story of one 9-1-1 operator, Abby Clark (Connie Britton) and her heroic efforts to marshal the resources at her disposal. Her calls go out to Sgt. Athena Grant (Angela Bassett), who balances her fast-paced job with drama on the homefront, notably with husband Michael (Rockmond Dunbar). They go to Bobby Nash (Peter Krause), captain of one of L.A.’s best firefighting units — and best-looking, by the way. He has his hands full, too. In the pilot, cops, firefighters and EMS crews rush out to save people — in one instance, a baby flushed down a toilet. This procedural was created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk of “American Horror Story” fame.

MY SAY “9-1-1” is insufferable, but it’s also watchable. Take your pick of “-ables.” Fox certainly has. The cast is good, obviously, and the production values are above average. Los Angeles gleams through the lens. It’s a well-scrubbed Emerald City that glints under an eternal sun, where the heroes — specifically Krause’s Bobby Nash — have perfect teeth and better timing, and where disaster is averted just after the commercial break. This baby is built to last: A reverse-engineered procedural that’s patched together with every bit of cop/rescue series flotsam that’s washed up on every beach since time began, or at least since “Adam-12.” We know its language well — too well.

What’s going on here? Don’t Murphy and Falchuk create groundbreaking series that shatter the boundaries of television and of culture itself?

Here’s what’s going on: Fox said, “Don’t even think of giving us another ‘Nip/Tuck.’ We want viewers.” And with this, they just might get them. In fact, “9-1-1” is what lots of viewers want. They want to see the sparkle of Krause’s teeth and the bulge of his muscle. They want to see Bassett as a tough cop with a heart of gold. They want to see Britton as the lovelorn 911 operator who saves lives and will one day fall into those big, welcoming, warm arms of the hero.

That’s what they want. Meanwhile, for the take-no-prisoners team of Murphy/Falchuk, there’s always FX.

BOTTOM LINE Cliches, cornpone and big slabs of baloney in this procedural sandwich, but otherwise watchable.

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