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Dissecting the Case of ‘Crossing Jordan’

TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

“I’ve got no editor in my brain,” laments Jordan Cavanaugh, the latest in a long line of strong-willed TV medical examiners who thumb their noses at bureaucrats and do things their way.

More than just a rebel, Cavanaugh is such a hothead that she’s had to have anger management therapy. It didn’t take. Moving from job to job, she’s highly able but unstable, having an obsessive need to invade cops’ turf and investigate crimes instead of merely poking at stiffs.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Sept. 26, 2001 FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 26, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Actor’s identity--In Monday’s Calendar, a review of the NBC drama “Crossing Jordan” misidentified an actor who plays one of the forensic team members. He is Mahershalalhashbaz Ali. Tim Kring is the show’s executive producer.

So she jumps at the opportunity, in tonight’s premiere of NBC’s moderately appealing “Crossing Jordan,” to flee Los Angeles and return home to Boston and her old job with the Massachusetts state coroner’s office. It appears to be a nice fit. Still there is her old boss, Garrett Macy (Miguel Ferrer), who talks to a hand puppet.

This is not a comedy.

“Crossing Jordan” has going for it, in fact, interesting layered characters who are endearingly flawed and a capable cast headed by series-worthy Jill Hennessy as Jordan and Ferrer as the troubled department head whose nerves are so shot it’s only an even bet he’ll escape a net. How can you not be charmed? Plus, Ken Howard is Jordan’s ex-cop father and Tim Kring a colleague.

Hennessy and Ferrer aside, however, why doesn’t “Crossing Jordan” quite work? Perhaps because tonight’s story has open seams and is essentially predictable, as Jordan has a little fling with a cop and is given a routine case and warned by Macy to keep her nose clean. Fat chance.

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“Everybody tells a story,” she says, bending over her assigned cadaver. “What’s yours?” Naturally, things don’t quite add up, and faster than you can say, “Quincy,” the new medical examiner is again disobediently playing detective. And solving the crime virtually on her own? Don’t ask.

Here is a series you want to like, if only it will let you.

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“Crossing Jordan” premieres tonight at 10 on NBC. The network has rated it TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children younger than 14).


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