But don't hold your breath this season for Quasimodos in lab coats.
Dana Delany), have the extra orgasm.
Dr. Rae's bedside manner is, well, distinctive. "Get your sweet Greek ass over here," she calls to her handsome lover in rural Pakistan, where they annually donate a couple of dusty weeks to help the locals. Then she's out of there and back in San Francisco with her husband.
CBS titles this mostly matriarchic pantheon of warmth, goodness and smoldering sexuality "Presidio Med." Delivered by the impresarios behind the vastly better "ER," it arrives tonight with a pair of NBC comedies--the so-so "In-Laws" and dreadful "Hidden Hills"--and UPN's moderately chilling "Haunted."
You could make the case that "Presidio Med" is funnier than either "In-Laws" or "Hidden Hills," and scarier than "Haunted" as it mingles ultrasounds with ultragoo.
Anyone familiar with TV doctors, from Kildare and Casey to present company, will know this drill. What you get here is the usual litany of maladies and patients who have them. They range tonight from a driven football coach who resists life-saving surgery that will interrupt his championship season to an old man whose terminal illness brings him closer to his estranged son.
In this misty environment, even death becomes an inspiring triumph over adversity, as these frayed hospital scenarios assume cornball lives of their own that transcend the show's generally good acting.
Jules Keating (Julianne Nicholson) is the devoted pediatrician with worries of her own. Jackie Colette (Sasha Alexander) is the kick-butt plastic surgeon who bullies a heartless HMO to its knees. Harriet Lanning (Blythe Danner) is the excruciatingly wise and dedicated ob-gyn who CBS says "still loves getting up in the middle of the night to deliver babies." Letty Jordon (Anna Deavere Smith) is the in-your-face cardiologist assigned by this show's producers to be the Presidio Medical Group's token Average Looking Person. Internist Matt Slingerland (Paul Blackthorne) is the hunky Brit.
Rae throws so much warmth toward her patients that you expect them to flame up like torches. And speaking of heat, count on her crossing paths again with the "sweet Greek ass," otherwise known as surgeon Nicholas Kokoris (Oded Fehr).
As bad as this series is, it's Johns Hopkins compared with ABC's bummer new "Meds," which arrives Wednesday opposite the time slot in which "Presidio Med" next airs. But that's another story.
As are "In-Laws" and "Hidden Hills."
The former, from the producers of "Frasier," is surely no Frasier," although mildly funny at times while seeking laughs from newlyweds Matt (Elon Gold) and Alex (Bonnie Somerville) moving in with her well-to-do parents, Marlene (Jean Smart) and Victor (Dennis Farina), a coarse bully who loves picking on his new son-in-law Victor is so tyrannical that he orders for everyone when taking the family to dinner. "All you've got to do," he tells intimidated Matt, "is chew and swallow."
The show is Victor's, and Farina is right for the role. But soon you're choking on this overbearing character and his relentless harping. That's especially the case in Episode 2 when Victor allows Matt to drive him to the eye doctor in his treasured Cadillac Fleetwood. Ohhhhhh nooooooo.
Forget the Fleetwood, put a brake on Victor.
As the least bearable series of the fall, "Hidden Hills" deserves hiding. Its setting is a posh gated community on the outskirts of metropolitan L.A. inhabited entirely by myopic idiots who think only about sex. In the epicenter of this libidinous earthquake of young-marrieds-with-kids are Doug (Justin Louis) and Janine (Paula Marshall), and Zack (Dondre T. Whitfield) and Sarah (Tamara Taylor).
Doug's runaway sexual fantasies share the premiere along with juvenile ramblings from Zack and their woo-woo, hubba-hubba, girl-watching, carnally obsessed chums. For diversion, we get their wives talking about sex.
How much fun is "Hidden Hills," which is closest in tone to HBO's almost-as-inane "Mind of a Married Man"?