Oliver Stark, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Angela Bassett and Peter Krause co-star in the third season of the procedural drama, "9-1-1". Picture: Supplied

Have you ever stumbled across a series and wondered how you missed it when it started? Well, that was me recently when I found myself
drawn to "9-1-1" on Catch Up. 

The third season started on M-Net in mid-January. And I was blown away by the sheer star power in the series, among other things. We are talking about Angela Bassett, Peter Krause and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

First, I just want to say that, at 61, Bassett has clearly played dodge-ball with time, as she is looking as youthful and ravishing as ever. Damn, girl! Krause I’ve loved since "Six Feet Under" and the deliciously scandalous, "Dirty Sexy Money". And Love Hewitt ("Party of Five", "Ghost
Whisperer" and "Criminal Minds") will forever remain a small screen sweetheart.

But 9-1-1 isn’t just about celebrity clout. It’s a brilliant series that tugs at the heartstrings thanks to the writing team, who pen surreal scenarios, which ropes in the police officers, paramedics, firefighters and dispatchers.

The situations leave an imprint on each of these heroic Los Angeles first responders. There were several episodes available and I decided to watch the first one. Three hours later, I binged on all of them. 

Every episode ends on a cliffhanger. Also, as a viewer, you become invested in the characters. The new season picks up five months after the serial bomber incident, where firefighter Evan “Buck” Buckley (Oliver Stark) sustained a serious leg injury, leaving his future with the department in a state of flux.However, there was one happy ending. LAPD patrol Sergeant Athena Grant Nash (née Carter), played by Bassett, and Robert “Bobby” Nash (Krause), LAFD Station 118 captain, tied the knot.

In the opening scenes, Buck suffers another medical setback, which makes Bobby rethink his return to work. Upset by the decision, Buck quits and is in a bad way until his best friend and fellow firefighter Edmundo “Eddie” Diaz (Ryan Guzman) gets him to babysit his son Christopher in an attempt to pull him out of his funk. It works in the most unexpected way as Buck and Christopher find themselves in the midst of the catastrophic tsunami that hits the Santa Monica Pier.

Viewers were on an emotional roller-coaster, as survivors and casualties surfaced with their own physical and emotional scars.

Interestingly, I also came across the spin-off series, 9-1-1: Lone Star as well. It stars Rob Lowe (who recently starred in "Wild Bill"), as Owen Strand, the new captain of Austin, Texas firehouse 126.

Having lost his firehouse in the 9/11 attacks, this is a fresh start for Stand and his son Tyler Kennedy “TK” Strand, who is a recovering opioid addict. In the course of hand-picking his new team, Strand, who has been recently diagnosed with cancer, decides against having Judd Ryder (Jim Parrack), the sole survivor of a tragic disaster, which claimed the life of his entire unit at 126. 

Strand encourages Ryder to seek out treatment for PTSD, which he rejects. Despite having similar values, these two find themselves on opposite ends of the fence. Meanwhile, Michelle Blake (Liv Tyler) has her own demons to deal with while holding down her post as the captain of the Emergency Medical Services. She’s still trying to get to the bottom of what happened to her sister, who went missing three years ago.

The cast comprises distinct characters including Marjan Marwani (Natacha Karam), a devout Muslim and a fighter/ paramedic, with a death-orglory disposition and Mateo Chavez (Julian Works), a rookie firefighter, whose painstaking attention to detail has always led those around him to think he is a bit on the slow side.

Lowe is really owning his small-screen roles, of late. As the lead, once again, he pulls off an impressive juggling act of a doting father,  formidable leader and charming love interest.

"9-1-1" airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Wednesday at 8pm. "9-1-1: Lone Star" airs on the same channel and day, at 7pm.