FALL TV Preview ‘11: A GIFTED MAN

You’ve seen the commercials. You’ve heard the hype. Now there’s only one thing you want to know: Which of the new fall shows are worth watching and which should be avoided at all costs? In this continuing series, we give you the scoop on some of the most highly-anticipated shows of the season, with today’s subject being A GIFTED MAN.

The Boilerplate: Since these pilot presentations may go through numerous rewrites and casting changes prior to premiere, this by no means should be considered an official review. Rather a preview of what one can expect come Fall.

The Plot: A GIFTED MAN is a drama about a brilliant, charismatic surgeon whose life changes forever when his deceased ex-wife begins teaching him the meaning of life from the “hereafter.” Michael Holt (Patrick Wilson) is an exceptional doctor who lives a materialistic life of luxury thanks to his work-obsessed career and powerful and wealthy patients; however, Michael’s ordered world is rocked when his ex-wife, Anna (Jennifer Ehle), an idealistic free-clinic doctor and the love of his life, mysteriously appears to him. Michael’s off-beat sister, Christina (Julie Benz), a single mom to her teenaged son, Milo (Liam Aiken), is thrilled that Anna’s back in her brother’s life, even as an “illusion,” because Michael was always a better person with her. Curious about Michael’s sudden change in behavior is his efficient assistant, Rita (Margo Martindale). When Anna asks Michael to go to her clinic to help keep it running, he meets Autumn (Afton Williamson), a volunteer carrying on Anna’s work with the underprivileged. Touched by those in need and accepting of Anna’s compassionate “presence,” Michael’s attitude toward serving the rich and poor is turned upside down, and he begins to see that there’s room in his life for everyone.

The First Impression: Is one of deja vu. Luckily for the series — which thanks to a central conceit eerily reminiscent of the likes of EVERWOOD, ELI STONE, HOUSE and THE GHOST WHISPER — won’t soon be accused of breaking new ground, A GIFTED MAN has three things going for it. Or to be more specific, an impressive core cast (Including titular character Patrick Wilson, his dearly deceased ex-wife played by Jennifer Ehle and sister Julie Benz) to help elevate what in any other hands would be your typical CBS procedural into an immensely appealing show that we might actually considering tuning into on a semi-regular basis.

The Concern: Curiously enough lies in the show’s central pairing. Will television audiences that love their “will-they-or-won’t they’s” be open to investing in a relationship between Wilson’s Holt and Ehle’s Anna that can never come to fruition? If they can…

The Verdict: Looks to be another winner for CBS.

A GIFTED MAN premieres on Friday September 23rd at 8PM on the CBS (GlobalTV in Canada).

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