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Archive for Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Combat Hospital’ lacks originality

June 21, 2011

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“Combat Hospital” (9 p.m., ABC) becomes the latest medical soap opera to air on ABC. Its setting in an Afghanistan war zone is supposed to make it different, but only goes to prove that the cliches of the genre transplant to any location. As the credits roll, fetching Canadian surgeon Maj. Rebecca Gordon (Michelle Borth, “Hawaii Five-O”) is high above the desert in an army transport jet. She seems too absorbed in what looks like a home pregnancy kit to hear orders to return to her seat for a very rough landing. She’s not exactly feeling well when she encounters a freshly minted American doctor Capt. Bobby Trang (Terry Chen, “Sanctuary”) outside the Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield. There they encounter the hospital’s tough, gruff commander, Col. Xavier Marks (Elias Koteas, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), who barely has time for “hello” before he starts shouting orders and sputtering medical jargon. The set is modeled on a real Canadian hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, but the verisimilitude does little to detract from the sense that you’ve seen this all before.

• “History Detectives” (7 p.m., PBS) enters a new summer season with an examination of two items thought to be linked to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

• Television’s love affair with sweet confections continues on two very different programs. The acclaimed documentary series “POV” (9 p.m., PBS) enters a new season with the film “Kings of Pastry” from directors D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. “Kings” follows 16 French chefs as they compete for that nation’s top honor in pastry. On a somewhat less exalted level, “Staten Island Cakes” (8 p.m., WE) follows the career of 21-year-old Vinny Buzzetta, a young man with his own cake shop and a colorful and supportive Italian-American family.

If you noticed similarities to TLC’s “Cake Boss,” you would be correct. “Cakes” also follows a few odd reality show trends. Apparently nobody goes to college anymore. And not unlike several “Real Housewife” shows, “Cake” features a rather attractive mother of a certain age way too involved in her kids’ lives who doesn’t want the brood to ever leave the nest. In some ways these series begin to resemble haunted house horror movies. You find yourself screaming, “Just get out of the house!” at the screen.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The top 16 emerge on “MasterChef” (7 p.m., Fox).

• The case of the missing cadaver on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Semifinals on “The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC).

• ABC presents “101 Ways to Leave a Game Show” (8 p.m., ABC) for viewers who find “Wipeout” too subtle.

• Diana goes undercover on “White Collar” (8 p.m., USA).

• An inside man on “Memphis Beat” (8 p.m., TNT).

• Every minute counts in a capital case on “The Good Wife” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Cover blown on “Covert Affairs” (9 p.m., USA).

• “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” (9 p.m., HBO) features an interview with Tiki Barber, an NFL player-turned-broadcaster who has announced his desire to return to the game.

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