jason isaacs the surgeon general Pilot preview: Jason Isaacs is 'The Surgeon General' at CBSIn less than a month, the broadcast networks will be announcing which new series they’re picking up for the 2013-14 season. Zap2it can’t wait for that, though, so this week we’re doing a series of pilot previews.

In addition to this gallery of 22 shows we hope the networks order to series,
we’re also going to take a closer look at pilot scripts from each of
the networks. While a lot can change between now and a series premiere,
and these are by no means full reviews, we hope to offer some insight at
some of the projects the networks are considering this spring.

Jason Isaacs‘ “Awake” didn’t survive the 2011-12 pilot season on NBC, but he’s back as “The Surgeon General” on CBS, one of the pilots we’re hoping gets picked up for this fall.

What it’s about: War medic Dr. John Sherman (Isaacs) is wounded in a heroic combat situation and is subsequently offered the position of Surgeon General of the United States by the president. He likes the idea of being “America’s doctor.”

Who’s in it: Sherman’s team of doctors includes Sean Astin, Beth Riesgraf and Mike Colter. His chief-of-staff Lydia is “Cold Case” star Kathryn Morris, and his political adversary is Anna Deavere Smith as the vice president, with Paul McCrane as her chief-of-staff.

Who’s behind it: Samuel Baum is the creator and executive producer, the man behind FOX hit “Lie to Me.” Rod Lurie of “Commander in Chief” is the director of the pilot. Also producing are James Spies (“Commander in Chief”) and Michael Weiss (“The Closer”).

Pros and cons: The potential is there for a strong new program that combines the best of a medical drama and a political show. While acting as “a doctor, not a politician,” as Sherman says he wants to be, he must navigate the waters of doing what he thinks is right while still playing ball in the political world. Isaacs is a compelling lead — we loved him in everything from “The West Wing” to “Harry Potter” to “Awake” — and Deavere Smith is a formidable adversary.

On the other hand, the pilot script didn’t offer many surprises. It’s not like this show needs to be the new “Scandal,” but cliches and in-your-face commentary on medical issues will wear thin. There was one twist to the first episode that has us very intrigued as to the on-going relationship between Sherman and the vice president. More nuances like that will help and we would imagine they will happen as characters are fleshed out.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."