Randomly, last night I caught the debut episode of the new CBS series Cane. It’s about the Duque family, a Cuban-American clan in both the sugar and rum businesses in South Florida.

At the outset of the show, the Duque’s long-time rivals, the Samuels — a drawling family of white Southerners — offer to buy up their sugar fields, claiming that the sugar business is slow and the real action is on the rum side. "We’ll do sugar; you do rum."

Family patriarch Pancho (Hector Elizondo) turns them down. Why? Because his adopted son and heir to the business Alex (Jimmy Smits) lets him in on a secret: the government is ready to switch its investments from corn ethanol to ethanol made from sugar! That’s going to make sugar, in Alex’s words, "the new oil."

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Yes, it’s a sprawling, high-budget night-time network drama based on … cellulosic ethanol.

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Hilarious!

(For what it’s worth, the show itself is … eh. It aims to be a Dallas-meets-Sopranos, but it’s not quite soapy enough to be a guilty pleasure and not quite hefty enough to be engaging as a drama. The cast is top-notch, but nothing I saw in the debut made me feel compelled to return for the rest. Your mileage may vary. Trailer below the fold.)