Cane, CBS, Season One, 2007

Probably the most anticipated show this season (I use that term carefully because I've heard that phrase on several networks, all for different shows!) is CBS' "Cane." This show is an hour long weekly drama that is a continuing series. In my view, CBS has needed a good continuing drama since "Dallas" went off in the 80's. With "The Sopranos" finally coming to an end, of some sort, the time was ripe for them to offer something to fill the void.

The plotline revolves around a Cuban family, the Duque's, that have sugar fields (hence the title), which they manufacture into rum. With our increasingly Hispanic demographic, and the success of the show "Ugly Betty, " it makes sense for the show to be so culturally rich with a Latino bent. The setting is in Southern Florida, with the clubs of South Beach, Miami already figuring into scenes. I could also picture a side trip or two into Havana, Cuba before the series concludes.

In the series opener, the family's patriarch, Pancho, played by Hector Elizondo, is told that he has six months left to live. He decides to step down from running the company to enjoy the time he has left. He has three children: Frank, Isabel, and Henry.

Frank, the eldest, wants to follow in his father's steps, and to focus on the more lucrative rum business. Unfortunately, with his playboy lifestyle, he is less than focused to run the family business.

Isabel is not directly involved in the day to day family business, but her husband, Alex Vega is. Alex is a Cuban immigrant who was brought to the states as an orphan. He is resourceful, and appears to have a Machiavellian philosophy of life, and the Tony Soprano/JR Ewing rulebook. In a surprise move, Alex is made the CEO of the company, passing over Frank. Can we see the seeds being sown for a conflict?

The youngest child is Henry. He has little interest in sugar, but much in running the family nightclub in Miami. He has more ambition than business sense, but there will be plenty of storylines as he learns the ropes of the family business. I relate him to Cousin Christopher of the Sopranos, or Bobby Ewing of Dallas.

My one criticism of the show, is that I recorded it, but on the playback, I had some issues understanding what they were saying. Maybe it was my machine, but I hope that the sound editing was good, because several of the scenes were in Spanish, or heavily accented English. It's good to get the flavor in, but I shouldn't have to struggle to understand what's going on. Then again, maybe it was my new recording device.

After watching the series opener of "Cane," I will say that I'm hooked, and this is probably the best new drama of the Fall season. I think that while the drama is formulaic, there are enough timeless themes like family and power to keep viewers engaged for at least a few seasons. I'm predicting that "Cane" will do very well in the ratings, so join in at 10 pm on CBS on Tuesdays, or online.

Preliminary Grade: B+


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