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Here's Everything You Need to Know About CBS' Limitless

Is Bradley Cooper in this show or what?

Liz Raftery

By now, you've probably heard about the much-hyped new fall series about ordinary people who discover that they have access to extraordinary abilities. And no, we're not talking about Heroes Reborn.

CBS' Limitless follows Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), a 20-something slacker who discovers a drug called NZT that multiplies his IQ tenfold and allows him to use 100 percent of his brain's capacity. As he grapples with his new abilities, he turns to the drug to try and find a cure for his dying father, unwittingly becomes a person of interest in a murder, and ends up acting as - what else? - a consultant for the FBI, recruited by Agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter).

If this all sounds familiar, the premise is based on the 2011 thriller that starred Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a struggling writer who discovers NZT and uses its effects to propel himself on to the bestseller list - and eventually, into the U.S. Senate. (The movie, in turn, was based on Alan Glynn's novel The Dark Fields.)

So what's going to set Limitless the TV series apart from Limitless the movie, and is it worth watching? Here are answers to all your burning questions about the new series:

1. Is Bradley Cooper in this show or what? The answer is yes. In addition to being an executive producer, Cooper appears in the pilot to reprise his character as Sen. Eddie Morra, who's now running for president and singles out Brian as a fellow NZT enthusiast. But whether he's a good or bad guy remains to be seen. "Eddie Morra's very different from where we left him," McDorman tells TVGuide.com. "Now he has these omnipresent, ambiguous intentions floating around Brian." Adds Carpenter: "A lot of people put their names on things, but I was shocked at our first read-through when he was there. ... He certainly is protective of his character and of the world itself." Cooper has also stated that he will make occasional guest appearances in future episodes.

2. So is this another superhero show? "Brian definitely sees himself that way. Absolutely. He thinks he's, like, the superhero of his own story," McDorman tells TVGuide.com. "But I think that's what's fun. In the next couple of episodes, we play with reality sneaking in on Brian, that maybe he's not going to be running, jumping, climbing fire escapes as often, because he's a liability, and underqualified to do anything." But in reality, Limitless is a thriller-mystery grounded in reality. If it's masks and capes you're after, you'll have to check out Supergirl.

3. How will the show set itself apart from the movie? It won't, in terms of cinematography. The pilot was directed by The Amazing Spider-Man's Marc Webb, and executives have said that their aim is to have the show look like a feature film each week. "You could put the pilot in theaters, I think, and it would sell as a million-dollar movie," Carpenter says. "It looks and moves that well." But in terms of the overall plot, Limitless the TV series is being presented as a continuation of the movie, not a reboot. "I think when you're given the opportunity to turn a movie into a television show, you have to do it for a reason beyond the fact that it was a successful movie," executive producer Alex Kurtzman told critics at the TCA fall previews earlier this summer. "There has to be something deep in the show, in the DNA of it, that feels like it's made for television, and then there's room for a continued story. One of the things that I really appreciated about the movie was the ambiguity of the ending and that it left a lot of very open-ended questions."

4. Isn't Jennifer Carpenter tired of playing cops? "I liked the movie very much,"admits Carpenter, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant when she shot the pilot. "I don't think I was necessarily looking to do something in law enforcement, but I like to work, and I feel like I've been craving something a little more buoyant after having played Debra [on Dexter]. ... I guess it felt like a perfect opportunity to reintroduce myself as an actress, in a way, through Rebecca."

5. Is Limitless trying to make a larger point about the use and abuse of prescription drugs? Yes and no. While there obviously isn't a real-life equivalent to NZT, the prevalence of drugs like Adderall and Modafinil (which actually positions itself as "The Real Limitless NZT-48!!") in high-powered professional fields was in the back of the creators' minds. "Although the effects of this pill are entirely fictional, the notion that something like this is not far away, I think feels somewhat tangible to people," executive producer Craig Sweeny said during the show's TCA panel. "The notion that you wouldn't want to take the pill only once a day, and it would be difficult to be your non-enhanced self once you had experienced your enhanced self, it's very present. ... The stuff we're writing right now is reckoning with, how can you stand being a normal person after you've been so extraordinary for half of your day?"

Limitless premieres Tuesday at 10/9c on CBS. Will you watch?

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)