Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Among the crop of new television shows debuting this fall is NBC's entry in the "CSI" Sweepstakes, the unimaginatively named "Medical Investigation" (airing 10pm on Fridays).

The series follows a special team from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who are dispatced around the country to cure outbreaks of unknown or unexplained diseases. They do so using their encylopedic knowledge of medicine, investigative savy, and big brass balls.

Not a bad premise, on the surface anyway. The execution, though, is second-rate at best. The first two episodes were both pumped so full of phony emotion, faux tension and vomitous bravado that their fairly inventive plots were buried under the bull.

The series stars the near-albino Neal McDonough (formerly of "Boomtown") and the uber-bland Kelli Williams (of "The Practice"), two adequate actors floundering in over-written, under-nuanced, stereotypical roles.

Even worse, though, is Anna Belknap (late of "The Handler") in the role of press liason, an annoying, pointless character who seems like she's acting on an entirely different show.

The fact that this is a blatant ripoff of better shows already on TV is bad enough. That the producers and writers hardly even tried to make it better is unforgiveable.

If the early episodes are any indication, "Medical Investigation" is nothing more than a road show "CSI," a poor imitator that will be lucky to make it to sweeps month.