NBC is kicking off its fall season with a mediocre start, airing the new medical drama “Crossing Jordan” tonight at 10 p.m. Instead of creating a fast-paced, mystery-driven “C.S.I.”-esque drama, NBC half-heartedly puts forth a less provocative effort, barely reaching out from the mass of other “bad” television shows.

Paul Wong
Mariah Carey can”t save herself, this man (who thinks he”s a bad ass) or this film.<br><br>Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

“Crossing Jordan” stars Jill Hennessy (“Law & Order) as Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh, an intelligent, sexy, uncensored woman of the “90s, with quite a penchant for picking fights. However, while her anger is in need of some management, her drive to solve crimes can put the best cops to shame. Unfortunately, her license says Medical Examiner, not Detective. Thus, Jordan”s obsession with catching the bad guy not only puts her career in danger, but more often than not, her life as well.

Called back to her hometown of Boston, Jordan is eager to get back to work after a prior “misunderstanding” led to her firing. Her boss, Garret Macy (Miguel Ferrer, “Traffic”) decides to offer her a second chance, based on her exemplary work, despite her erratic, unmanageable behavior. Jumping right back into the saddle, Jordan discovers that her “simple” case involving a Jane Doe”s apparent drug overdose leads to a cover-up for foul play involving important city officials.

The premise behind “Crossing Jordan” might have worked had it not been for the cheesy, superimposition of Jordan into the actual crime scene with what can only be characterized as “hypnotic” visions. Jordan isn”t psychic, but like Ally Walker”s Sam Waters on NBC”s defunct “Profiler,” Jordan can see the crime and act it out in a way that helps her set the scene and find the motivation behind the killing. But where “Profiler” kept an appropriate distance from the killer”s actions, “Crossing Jordan” allows Jordan to actually take part in the crime.

Helping Jordan in her pseudo-investigations is her ex-cop father, Max (Ken Howard, “The Net”) from whom Jordan inherited her stubborn drive and keen detective skill. Raising Jordan alone, after his wife was murdered, Max became accustomed to bringing his work home for Jordan to assist with. The two used to play a game of “Who do you want to be, the killer or the victim?” a game that continues into Jordan”s adult years and precedes the hypnotic crime scene footage.

Jill Hennessy tries to flex her acting muscle as the independent and angry Jordan, but falls short in actually giving the character any depth. It”s a good thing that the character hates to cry because Hennessy isn”t very good at believability. Hennessy proves that one should never pass up a good thing, as she pulled what fondly is known as a “Caruso” by leaving “Law & Order” long before her time, in order to prove that she”s better than an Emmy-winning show. Of course, her effort was in vain and now she is relegated to a show that won”t last longer than the viewers” attention span, and fans of Claire Kincaid are still left with their grief.

Miguel Ferrer, a wonderful character actor, is miscast as the aging Garret in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Ferrer is no stranger to television, daftly playing the right hand man to Randal Flagg in “The Stand,” but is relegated to performing with a hand puppet in the pilot due to his supposed inability to interact with people.

In fact, all of the characters on the show are in one way or another just added fodder for Hennessy and her story lines.

Everything about the show is ultimately contrived, piecing together the family ties of “Providence,” the zaniness of “Chicago Hope” and the detective work of “Profiler” into one chaotic mess. (It just so happens that the creator of “Crossing Jordan,” Tim Kring, was the producer of the first two shows just listed!) Apart, each of these shows found a niche that one could appreciate and enjoy. Unfortunately, with plenty of other more intelligent dramas to fill our appetites for medical mysteries, it”s safe to say that “Crossing Jordan” and its strong female lead will fall along the wayside with the rest of the incoming TV fodder. Everybody doesn”t always tell a story.

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