'3 Lbs.': It’s not brain surgery—oh, wait!

EntertainmentTelevisionFictionStanley TucciHugh LaurieHealth

Just when you thought you'd seen every slice, dice and surgical phenomenon there is to see on TV, CBS drops "3 Lbs." More than a simple procedural show, this look at the fast-paced world of New York City neurosurgeons examines the inner-workings of the brain, on and off the operating table.

Stanley Tucci stars as the brilliant but cranky Dr. Doug Hanson. His cut-and-dry diagnoses and total disregard for patients are juxtaposed with Mark Feuerstein's Dr. Jonathan Seger, the optimistic protégé known for his comforting bedside manner.

Creator and executive producer Peter Ocko recently gave a little insight into the mind of his new show, while squeamish star Tucci explained why he'd never be a real doctor.

How do you like playing Dr. Hanson, Stanley?
Stanley Tucci: Well, I think it's awfully fun, I have to say. It's a joy to play a character who is a bit of a mystery. You never quite know what you're going to get. He's quite complex, and those are always the most interesting characters to play.

What kind of research did you do for the brain surgery scenes? Any hands-on experience?
Tucci: Yes, I operated on two people—I have their numbers if you'd like to talk to them. [Laughs] I kicked everyone else out of the operating room. I used two simple tools: an old spoon and a hacksaw. [Pauses.] I'm kidding. Of course I'm kidding! I believe that there's a part of me that won't [even watch a surgery] because I'm more squeamish than I think.

How difficult was it to make the surgery scenes—not gross?
Peter Ocko: It is a medical drama about brain surgeons, and we spend a healthy portion of the show where we're actually in surgery. For us, it's not an opportunity to get into the blood and guts of surgery; it's a much more refined and amazing process…We do spend a great deal of time getting into the heads of our patients…their imagination, their dreams—the sort of magical quality of what some of these problems in the brain will lead to.

Do you really have hundreds of stories to tell about brain surgery?
Ocko: We have at least two great box sets—that's how I'd like to look at it. [Laughs] There's not a story we tell that is not documented in fact. For me, one of the challenges of the show is to really convince the audience that we're not making this up. A lot of times it seems like science fiction; it's truly hard to believe the complexity and the almost ridiculousness of how the brain works.

The Dr. Hanson character in "3 Lbs." and Hugh Laurie's "House" seem awfully similar—they're both abrupt and have lousy bedside manners…
Ocko: I don't think anyone invented the grumpy-doctor-is-God complex. Anyone who sees the pilot will see that we are very different from "House." This guy's not angry at patients. He sees the world as very black and white, and he's got to come to terms with the fact that he may be wrong about that.

On the continuum between McDreamy of "Grey's Anatomy" and Dr. House, where does Dr. Hanson end up?
Ocko: We're on our own continuum! [Laughs] I don't know—I'd happily toss that one to Stanley but I'm sure he'd be less likely to answer than I would. I find passion to be sexy, and that's certainly where we start with this guy.

"3 Lbs." premieres Tuesday, November 14 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS

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