Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fall 2007 TV: Cane

Cane (CBS)

I don't watch soap operas, but if I did, I would watch Cane. It's got a phenomenal cast, a sleek, appealing look, a gorgeous setting in South Florida, and lots of sex, violence, and intrigue. Just what a soap needs!

The Duques are like the Ewings, but with sugar instead of oil. (Although a plot twist suggests their sugar fields will soon be valuable more as ingredients for ethanol, rather than their traditional use in rum, so maybe they're exactly like the Ewings.) The awesome Hector Elizondo is Pancho Duque, head of the clan, who discovers he's got less than a year to live; the magnificent Rita Moreno is his wife, Amalia. Nestor Carbonell (whom I've liked for ages, even before he started being in good stuff, like The Tick; I mean, I'm talking all the way back to Muscle, part of The WB's original lineup in 1995, which also featured a pre-Spin City pairing of Michael Boatman and Alan Ruck. But I digress), is Pancho's firstborn son, Frank. And Jimmy Smits is Alex Vega, Pancho's adopted son, and husband to Pancho's daughter (a little weird there). Pancho has just named Alex the new president and CEO of Duque Rum, which an enraged Frank considers a betrayal.

Meanwhile, the Duques' sugar competitors, the Samuels family, have designs on the Duque sugar fields. Polly Walker, who was scorchingly brilliant as Atia on Rome, is Ellis Samuels, who is secretly sleeping with Frank, hoping to gain control of the empire through sex. (Hey, it worked in Rome.) Lee Tergesen, so creepy in Oz, is her brother Lamont, equally creepy here. And Ken Howard, the ol' White Shadow himself, is their father, Joe Samuels, who will do anything to get that land. Thirty-five years ago, he had Pancho's three-year-old daughter kidnapped (and eventually killed) to force Pancho into selling his land for the ransom money. (How Pancho got the land back, I don't know.) Pancho is unaware Joe was behind the crime, but Alex knows, and is willing to resort to murder himself in order to protect his family and their interests.

So, yeah: a big, convoluted, spicy soap. And I haven't even touched on a dozen other important characters, or a dozen other plot threads. This is a well-made, well-acted, relatively well-written (as far as soapy dramas go), addictive program.

For somebody else. I said it at the beginning: I don't watch soaps. And the high quality of this one is not going to get me to change my mind. I just can't bring myself to get caught up in all the characters and the backstories and the double-crosses and the who's-sleeping-with-whos and so on. I don't have the patience, the interest, or really the capacity to care. I'm giving this a fairly high rating, because if you like this kind of thing, then this is the thing for you. But it's not for me.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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