TV Review - The Night Shift

Eoin Macken (left), JR Lemon and
Jill Flint (right) in "The Night Shift"
There have been several medical series, particularly in the past decade, that have been outstanding and many of which are hard to top like House M.D., Grey's Anatomy and Nurse Jackie. In the wake of ER, the NBC network has done a couple of medical series. Of course, there was the comedy Scrubs. Recently, the network attempted Do No Harm, but it barely survived one season.

The Night Shift seems to be derivative of all the aforementioned medical series. It's no where near as compelling. It's more comedic in tone, but it just feels like retread. CBS did a medical series called A Gifted Man, which has a supernatural twist and a far greater actor at its core. This show doesn't have that.

Written by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, the show does have a diverse cast held up by an interesting ensemble, but unlike A Gifted Man, which had great direction by Jonathan Demme in its pilot, this show's direction is rather bland. At three episodes, I don't see the point of watching or following. The fourth is somewhat solid, but still not overly compelling.

A few years ago, there was a prime-time soap opera that was a spin-off from General Hospital called General Hospital: Night Shift and that show benefited from its soap opera roots. It played on that. This show could probably benefit from doing the same. It's not that I want the characters to start having sex with each other, which is inevitable given some of the dynamics of some of the characters, but delving into the personal lives of these people could help.

The premise focuses on medical doctors from the army coming to work at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. The lead surgeon is a maverick named TC Callahan, played by Eoin Macken. He takes his skills treating people on the battlefield into the struggling emergency room. He butts heads with Michael Ragosa, played by Freddie Rodriguez (Six Feet Under). Ragosa is a penny pincher and has to think constantly about the economics and financial situation of the hospital. That often means having to reign in Callahan's tactics.

There's good conflict there, but there's no real consequence so far or any real threat. There's no chance of Callahan being fired for real or the hospital closing down. If the writers had established those stakes, the scenes might be better.

Robert Bailey Jr. plays Paul Cumming, a young black doctor who seems to be the butt of a lot of practical jokes. He's the rookie of the hospital as it were. He has the potential of being the equivalent of Charlie Barnett's character Peter Mills in Chicago Fire, but so far Bailey doens't have as much appeal or seeming strength. His character is leaning more toward bumbling fool.

Ken Leung plays Topher Zia, a character that doesn't feel too far removed from his character on Lost. The only difference is now he's in medical scrubs instead a Dharma Initiative uniform. Brendan Fehr plays Drew, so far the most intriguing of all the doctors. Like the others, he's a doctor who served in Afghanistan. He's a MMA fighter and he's also gay.

Odd thing is that even in a post-"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" world, Drew is still in the closet. It won't be a major storyline. He'll basically be in the same position as Chris Carmack in Nashville, but when his boyfriend arrives, played by Luke MacFarlane (Brothers & Sisters), the show might get even more intriguing.

The first three episodes set things up. Most of the time is dedicated though to the strange cases of the week. We'll see if the writers give Fehr's character more devotion than Carmack's character got.

Jeffrey Pierce popped onto the show. He might be simply guest starring, but he was just in the series The Tomorrow People. His stint on that was pretty great. I would hope to see more of his character here who is named Big Todd, a name that refers to the size of his anatomy.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Tuesdays at 10PM on NBC.


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