Picks and Pans Review: This Show Needs Help

updated 06/29/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/29/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC, June 24, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

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James Purefoy, a British actor best known here for playing Mark Antony in HBO's Rome, has the sort of rumpled leading-man looks that make him both watchable and credible in just about any role: tycoon, playboy, adventurer, even spiritual pilgrim. He's all those things in The Philanthropist. Teddy Rist, dripping with money and seemingly soaked with dissatisfied indifference, is secretly haunted by the death of his young son and the collapse of his marriage. But he finds a new purpose in life when he rescues a boy during a hurricane in Nigeria. Returning to the boy's village to deliver medicine, Teddy nearly dies a thousand deaths himself: He has to get past drug agents, corrupt local officials, whistling bullets and poisonous snakes. The series will apparently follow Rist through similar adventures of soft-hearted derring-do, something between Oprah and Indiana Jones. It's pretty well done, but once Rist is fully awakened to life by the end of the pilot, hasn't the show in a sense already finished? It's not as if you'd care whether the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge went on to become a UNICEF ambassador.

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