Blair Underwood isn't a doctor in real life but he's enjoying playing one on TV. He's also well aware that Hollywood is closely watching City of Angels, and the success of the hospital drama is critical (no pun intended) on several levels. "If this show fails, the reality of that perception is that not even the great

Steven Bochco can make a black drama work," he tells TV Guide Online. "So why should anybody else try? It cannot fail."

Underwood explains that initial reservations about the show's multicultural appeal have been laid to rest. "I found out the other day that 70 percent of our audience is Caucasian, so that addresses the crossover appeal ? and we're the No. 1 show in black households. It's still in its infancy and I believe every show is better than the last. You have to get beyond the racial card. It's going to sink or swim on the merits of great drama."

Television audiences first became acquainted with Underwood when he played Bobby Blue on One Life to Live but it was his seven-year stint on L.A. Law that put him on the map. "Entertainment Tonight recently did a retrospective on [L.A. Law]. It was the first time I stepped back and felt or looked at it in a historic perspective," he says. "It was an exciting time in my life for many reasons. My life changed completely."

The actor jokes that strolling down memory lane does cause some embarrassment. "It's on A&E right now and I can't watch it, primarily because I went through so many different hairstyles. I had flips and pompadours! Oh, man!"