×

Cane

Well cast, with a sturdy central presence in Jimmy Smits as the adopted son handed the keys to the kingdom, "Cane" yearns to be "Dallas" with a salsa flavor, providing an early test of the Eye web's strategy to stretch beyond its crime-and-punishment profile.

With:
Alex Vega - Jimmy Smits Pancho Duque - Hector Elizondo Frank Duque - Nestor Carbonell Amalia Duque - Rita Moreno Ellis Samuels - Polly Walker Isabel Vega - Paola Turbay Henry Duque - Eddie Matos Jaime Vega - Michael Trevino Katie Vega - Lina Esco Rebecca King - Alona Tal Artie Vega - Samuel Carmen

Nobody walks around a chalk outline in this pilot, which, given CBS’ recent history, represents something of an upset. Rather, the show hearks back to the network’s 1970s roots, when family dynasties collided against fabulously opulent backdrops — in this case, focusing on a Cuban-American clan’s sugar empire. Well cast, with a sturdy central presence in Jimmy Smits as the adopted son handed the keys to the kingdom, “Cane” yearns to be “Dallas” with a salsa flavor, providing an early test of the Eye web’s strategy to stretch beyond its crime-and-punishment profile.

Boil it down, and “Cane” emerges as a corporate succession battle, pitting the principled Alex (Smits) against his adopted brother Frank (Nestor Carbonell), as their dad (Hector Elizondo) begins to loosen his grip on the family’s holdings. (The old man is said to be fading, but given Elizondo’s gristly performance, let’s hope he miraculously hangs on for awhile.)

Alex has married into the family by wedding Isabel (Paola Turbay), with whom he’s produced gorgeous kids. Meanwhile, another major land-owning family, the Samuels — among them “Rome’s” sultry Polly Walker — seeks to buy out the Duques’ holdings, promising plenty of high-stakes chicanery as Alex attempts to protect the family business from enemies within and without.

Unlike “Ugly Betty,” which reinvented the telenovela as dramedy to attract Hispanics and still cross over, “Cane” tacitly recognizes the tastes of that growing audience segment while positioning itself as a conventional soap. In that respect, the series owes far more to “Dallas” and “Falcon Crest” than, say, “Mesa Para Tres” (one of the Latin American soaps that helped birth MyNetworkTV’s best-forgotten original lineup). Still, “Cane” faces the uphill battle of establishing a grown-up serial on a network steeped in procedural crime.

Smits reminded everyone just what a compelling TV star he is on “The West Wing’s” underappreciated final season, and he’s clearly the show’s principal asset — battling over which direction to steer the company, and based on the pilot, ruthless enough to avoid (it is hoped) being too saintly and bland. Thus far, though, other than being muy caliente, there’s little to distinguish the rest of the cast, beyond a calculated attempt to attract a younger crowd (or at least get kids to sit down with their grandmothers) by adding teenagers to the frothy doings.

With “The Unit” as a lead-in, this series created by Cynthia Cidre (“The Mambo Kings”) seemingly has an opportunity to get noticed, with the necessary disclaimer that such serialized fare has proven extremely fragile — especially on a network so strongly associated with procedurals that it might be extra difficult to raise “Cane.”

Popular on Variety

Cane

CBS, Tue. Sept. 25, 10 P.M.)

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles and Miami by Interscope Television and CBS Paramount Television in association with ABC Studios. Executive producers, Cynthia Cidre, Jonathan Prince, Jimmy Iovine, Polly Anthony; co-executive producer, Jimmy Smits; producer, Dennis Bishop; co-producer, John A. Smith; director, Christian Duguay; writer, Cidre.

Crew: Camera, David Connell; editor, David Post; music, David Lawrence; production designer, Eve Cauley; casting, Bonnie Finnegan, Steven Jacobs. Running Time: 60 MIN.

Cast: Alex Vega - Jimmy Smits Pancho Duque - Hector Elizondo Frank Duque - Nestor Carbonell Amalia Duque - Rita Moreno Ellis Samuels - Polly Walker Isabel Vega - Paola Turbay Henry Duque - Eddie Matos Jaime Vega - Michael Trevino Katie Vega - Lina Esco Rebecca King - Alona Tal Artie Vega - Samuel Carmen

More TV

  • Sinclair

    Sinclair Closes Purchase of Fox Regional Sports Networks From Disney

    Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Walt Disney Company have closed their $9.6 billion deal for Sinclair to buy 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks and Fox College Sports. The deal was announced in May after Disney bought the networks as part of its acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox. The portfolio, which excludes the YES Network, is described [...]

  • Michael Shannon

    Michael Shannon to Play Jerry Buss in HBO's 'Untitled Showtime Lakers Project' Pilot

    Michael Shannon has been cast to play self-made millionaire and former Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss in HBO’s “The Untitled Showtime Lakers Project” pilot, based on the Jeff Pearlman book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.” The series, which chronicles the professional and personal lives of the [...]

  • Luna Nera Netflix Italy

    Netflix Eyes More Italian Productions

    Since Netflix entered the Italian market in 2015, it’s steadily gained ground in terms of subscriptions, which are expected to reach 2 million by the end of 2019, according to independent analyst Ovum. The streaming giant recently announced a €200 million ($222 million) investment in Italian original productions over the next three years. Variety spoke [...]

  • 'Serendipity': NBC Developing Series Inspired by

    'Serendipity': NBC Developing Series Inspired by Kate Beckinsale, John Cusack Movie

    NBC has given a script commitment to a prospective series inspired by the 2001 Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack movie “Serendipity.” The project hails from Miramax Television, whose film division produced the original film, and writer Jonny Umansky. The idea for the show seems like a romantic one, here’s the logline: Harry and Claire fall [...]

  • The Bachelor frontrunners

    Who's the Next 'Bachelor'? Here Are Season 24's Three Frontrunners (EXCLUSIVE)

    When last season of “The Bachelorette” wrapped up, many viewers would have guessed the next “Bachelor” would be runner-up Tyler Cameron. But oh, how things change in a month’s time. Cameron, the runner-up in Hannah Brown’s season, who stopped by “The Bachelorette” finale’s live after show to quickly reconcile with Brown and discuss meeting for [...]

  • Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen and Martin

    Bruce Springsteen's Director, Thom Zimny, on the Move from 'Broadway' to 'Western Stars'

    Director Thom Zimny is due for a big September: Come Sept. 22, he’ll find out whether he’s winning an Emmy Award for directing “Springsteen on Broadway” for Netflix. Ten days before that, he’ll be at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival to premiere a theatrical feature, “Western Stars,” which he co-directed with his muse and subject, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content