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Ch.4 adds St. Bona grad to sports team; NBC's "Heartbeat" is a mess to avoid

Channel 4 has hired a St. Bonaventure University graduate who has been working at a Syracuse station for two years as the third member of its sports team.

Shannon Shepherd, a sports reporter at WSYR-TV in Syracuse, will join the sports team at WIVB-TV on April 18. Her primary duties will be covering high school and college sports.

She joins sports director Josh Reed and Tom Martin, who joined the station last year, on WIVB’s sports staff.

The station hasn’t had a third member of the sports team in several years but adding one became a goal of News Director Scott Levy.

Shepherd has anchor experience as a weekend sports anchor at WSAW-TV in Wausau, Wisconsin before working in Syracuse. According to the WSYR website, she is a native of Northern Virginia.

She is not entirely new to Channel 4, having been a sports intern at the station under former sports director John Murphy. She was the 2012 winner of the Tim Russert Medal of Merit from the Buffalo Broadcasters Association.

Levy said her arrival at Channel 4 may have been slightly delayed by the success the Syracuse University men’s and women’s basketball teams are having in the current NCAA tournament. Both made the Sweet 16 last weekend. The tournaments end in early April.

“We wanted to make the transition smooth for both stations,” added Levy.

WSYR is owned by Nexstar, which is expected to be become the owner of Channel 4 by the end of the year.

NBC premieres a new medical series, “Heartbeat,” at 9 tonight that reportedly was delayed from the fall by the real-life pregnancy of star Melissa George.

I watched it last summer and found it to be one of the dumbest medical shows in recent broadcast TV history. Yes, even worse than the rookie CBS medical series “Code Black,’” which had a dreadful pilot and somehow has become a success.

The nine-month delay hasn’t improved the pilot of "Heartbeat," which is an unintentional funny mess starting with George's character  saving a life by playing MacGyver on an airplane and ending with her saving a life with her cutting-edge medical methods.

Nothing else is cutting edge about the show, which is primarily a star vehicle for the beautiful George, the Australian actress who has appeared on several TV series in recent years including last year’s NBC bomb “The Slap,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Good Wife.”

Her character, Dr. Alex Panttiere, is a passionate heart doctor nicknamed Pants who doesn’t take any grief from her male colleagues. Except being called Pants. She also has a messy romantic life. Her ex-husband (played by Josh Leonard) is a gay rock star, her boyfriend (Dave Annable of “Brothers and Sisters”) is a caring surgeon, and her former mentor and lover (Australian actor Don Hany) has come back in her life after 12 years to show off his accent and complicate things. Oh, yeah, Dr. Alex also is a mother who has two young boys. And George Clooney is supposed to show up at a party at episode’s end. In other words, the pilot is more cluttered than the Irish Center on St. Patrick’s Day.

Tonight’s pilot was so dreadful that I decided to give it a second chance. I watched the next episode involving adult Siamese twins, one of whom had an illness that threatened both of them. I didn’t think the dialogue, the plot and the female empowerment theme could possibly more ridiculous than they were in the pilot.

But the episode was only marginally better. In short, “Heartbeat” should stop beating very quickly unless viewers are so mesmerized by George’s looks that they will watch anything.

By George, not even Clooney’s arrival as a series regular probably could have saved it.

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