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Early Edition: The First Season

With his clipped voice, heavy lids, slouchy posture, and short fuse, Kyle Chandler represents a recognizable type: the decent, certain man who seems to spend 60 percent of his time trying to make right what he screwed up yesterday. Before he tackled his signature role as a flawed-but-noble football coach on the cult series Friday Night Lights, Chandler spent four seasons balancing perturbation and heroism on Early Edition, playing an ordinary Chicagoan who wakes up each day to find tomorrow's newspaper on his doorstep. In every episode of Early Edition: The First Season, Chandler scours the headlines, looking for a disaster to avert. Then he spends the next hour trying to figure out how to stop tragedy without revealing his secret.

The premise is goofy but fertile, in that in any given installment, the show holds the promise of pathos, plot twists, and diverse human interaction. In practice, though, Early Edition is usually more treacly than gripping, held back by Chandler's dull castmates (Fisher Stevens as his scheming best friend; Shanésia Williams as his priggish, blind assistant), the absurd coincidences that keep Chandler's mission afloat, and his inability to come up with any better plan than to run to where trouble's about to happen, and shout, "Hey! Stop!"

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Yet it's hard to dislike Early Edition, in part because it makes such good use of its Chicago location, and in part because Chandler was such a perfect lead for this kind of show. He excels at playing men of action, caught up in something larger than themselves. When he asks himself the fundamental questions of leadership—like "How do you change people's minds?"—he seems absolutely bewildered, right up to the moment when he lucks into an answer.

Key features: If you want to know how CBS advertised "next week on Early Edition," you're in clover.

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