Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pilot Review: Pure Genius

Pure Genius (CBS)
Premiered October 27 at 10pm

It never makes all that much sense to me what new shows networks save to launch in late October or early November, since the buzziest series have usually all had a chance to find their footing by that point, putting late arrivals at a sincere disadvantage. I saw poster advertisements on buses around New York City for this show with a face I didn’t recognize and the words “tech giant” and “medical pioneer.” Medical shows don’t much intrigue me, though I know that they’re very popular with viewers, whether they’re soapy ensemble series set in hospitals or series that center on a brilliant individual with a novel approach to medicine and a determination to solve any mystery no matter how impossible it might seem. CBS’ new procedural offering follows that latter concept, presenting a Silicon Valley whiz kid using his genius and amassed fortune to tackle any medical obstacle and obliterate it. The problem is that Augustus Prew’s James Bell really isn’t all that charismatic, and wearing a blazer over a t-shirt and brashly accepting challenges based on how unassailable they are amount to his most visible credentials. There are a handful of other TV faces in the cast, including Dermot Mulroney, fresh off a recurring role on “Shameless,” Reshma Shetty from “Royal Pains,” and Odette Annable, who I remember most strongly from “Banshee” a few years ago. This show attempts to present medical miracles, and while that may appeal to some, there’s little to nothing about this show, including all of its actors and their roles, that makes it distinguishable from others and worth watching.

How will it work as a series? Despite his protests, Mulroney’s Dr. Wallace didn’t take much convincing to spend every week away from his family and fly home on the weekends to see them, and so now he’s fully part of a team that may seem reckless but ultimately gets the job done. For people who liked “House,” this is probably the less dynamically-led successor they’ve been waiting for, but for everyone else, it’s just a lackluster procedural.
How long will it last? Not too long, I’d imagine. Disappointing reviews are far from the biggest threat to this show’s success. Premiering to tepid ratings was a bad sign considering CBS’ high standards for success, and dipping even lower in episode two all but guarantees that this will probably be the first show cancelled this season.

Pilot grade: C-

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