In the US: Tuesdays, 10pm, CBS. Starts September 25
In the UK: Acquired by ITV
Phew. That was a close one. For one horrible moment, I thought we had on our hands a Latino version of Brothers and Sisters, one of the most tedious and scum-filled shows in TV history.
Gosh, which one of us will inherit the fabulously business empire? Shall we go into bioethanol or alcohol production?
Like anyone cares.
Fortunately, we have something a bit lighter, a bit frothier, with a bit of darkness and intrigue. It's still a slightly tepid affair, but it's far from the worse family saga I've ever seen. That's Brothers and Sisters. Were you not getting that?
Plot (escaped by sea from the CBS web site)
Emmy winner Jimmy Smits returns to series television as the newly proclaimed heir to the Duque family's sugar cane and rum empire. It's a steamy and seductive drama about bitter rivals and their dangerous battles for love, lust and wealth. Mix with a twist and you have a potent blend for the season's most sizzling saga.
Is it any good?
It's patchy. If I weren't monitoring it for you all, I wouldn't stick around further than this first episode.
For the most part, it's business rubbish. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Maybe market traders among you will love that aspect, but it's pretty soporific for most mortals.
But there are some more intriguing elements. There's Smits' son's struggle with whether to go to college or not like his family expects or whether to carve out his own path in the army. There's the Smits backstory from his days on Cuba and the lengths he'll go to to make sure it stays in the past. Then there's the Jacob and Esau-like struggle between Smits and his brother, played by Lost escapee Nestor Carbonell.
It's also a damn sight less tedious than Brothers and Sisters. People actually look like they're having funny occasionally. They get to party, drink, have sex and listen to music that doesn't make you want to punch them. That's got to better, doesn't it?
It has a good cast, some of whom are actually allowed to speak Spanish - including the great Smits himself - much to my delight. Hector Elizondo is allowed to live past the pilot, unlike Tom Skerritt in that other show, but appears to be channelling Edward James Olmos these days. And the secret Brit, Polly Walker, is allowed to use her own accent, which is nice.
If the show ditches some of the more tedious business talk, it should be a more sophisticated, better acted Dallas for our times. Not one I'll be watching, probably, but should be good for people whose tastes veer in that direction.
Here's a shiny CBS trailer for the show.
Jimmy Smits (Alex Vega)
Hector Elizondo (Pancho Duque)
Nestor Carbonell (Frank Duque)
Rita Moreno (Amalia Duque)
Paola Turbay (Isabel Vega)
Eddie Matos (Henry Duque)
Michael Trevino (Jaime Vega)
Lina Esco (Katie Vega)
Sam Carman (Artie Vega)
Alona Tal (Rebecca)
Polly Walker (Ellis Samuels)
- October 12, 2007: Negligence on my part: Cane and Big Shots
I probably won't have third-episode verdicts on Cane and Big Shots