TV Review: CBS' 'Miami Medical'
Jeremy Northam didn't pick a very engaging American network TV debut
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Over the years, super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer has brought CBS a stacked lineup of hits (all aging) and delivered dull, slightly off-brand shows to other networks, duds like "The Forgotten" and "Justice" and "E-Ring" and "Dark Blue."
Bruckheimer's latest, "Miami Medical," feels like the kind of show Bruckheimer might have stuck ABC or NBC with. Coupled with Bruckheimer's last CBS disappointment, the leaden "Eleventh Hour," it's hard not to come away feeling like the pendulum might have shifted away from what the super-producer has always done so well. If there were lessons to be learned from the evolution of "NCIS" from steady hit to breakout smash, they seem to have been lost here.
If you took "E.R." and blended it with "Burn Notice," but then stripped out the tension and artistic innovation from the former and the wit and charm from the latter, the result would still be more distinctive and engaging than CBS' "Miami Medical."
Calling "Miami Medical" bad would probably be an overstatement. Its only real crime is being gratingly dull and familiar.
[My relatively brief review after the break... There isn't a lot to say about this one.]
Trauma surgeons, we hear several times in the early episodes of "Miami Medical," are the rock stars of the medical world. When you're right on the brink between life and death, these are the guys entrusted with saving your life in "the golden hour," the critical first hour after a major incident.
"The Golden Hour" would have been a better name for the show than the utterly generic "Miami Medical," which only got the call after CBS decided "Miami Trauma" was too similar to NBC's "Trauma," which looked like it was tanking this fall, but will miraculously complete nearly a full season.
But "Miami Medical" is probably appropriately generic, since if they didn't keep emphasizing that these are trauma doctors, you'd never be able to tell their cases and challenges apart from the work done by emergency room docs on "Grey's Anatomy" or any of the quarter-dozen nursing shows now in rotation. These are exactly the doctors you've seen before, but because they're in Miami, there are occasional cutaways to beached hardbodies, azure seas or palm trees. They may, in fact, be raiding the "Burn Notice" stock footage bin and then color-timing it to give it that heavily filtered Bruckheimer look. Occasionally the music takes a Latin beat, while one of the doctors is Cuban but while "CSI: Miami" has generally used the location as inspiration for the weekly cases, "Miami Medical" is just doing interchangeable stuff, though the pilot, with its endangered pregnant woman, pushed a little too far into exploitative territory.
The one viable reason to watch "Miami Medical," for many viewers at least, is leading man Jeremy Northam, who picked a mighty weird project to use as his American network series debut. The "Tudors" and "Winslow Boy" star gets the big entrance in the pilot and he's positioned as a brilliant, cooky outsider in the mold of Dr. House or Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis' character in "Life"), but if anything the show has been designed as too much of an ensemble. Northam's Dr. Proctor is submerged in a heap of less engaging and generic characters and he barely gets to shine.
The sad thing is that some of the characters are played by actors I really like. I loved Lana Parrilla on "Boomtown" and even when "Swingtown" didn't interest me, I found her compelling and wanted bigger things for her. Elisabeth Harnois was oddly interesting in the horrid "Point Pleasant" and surprisingly good in the indie "Pretty Persuasion." There's been talk of Mike Vogel becoming a leading man for years. And Omar Gooding has been my favorite Gooding brother since "Snow Day." Fine actors. Charismatic actors. Not really asked to do very much and delivering accordingly. I think Harnois may be the most interesting of that group, because she's playing the trauma doc version of the flibbertigibbet newbie (think Michelle Trachtenberg on "Mercy" or, in its ideal form, Merritt Wever on "Nurse Jackie"), but she gives the character solid dramatic shading.
"Miami Medical" will probably just go down as a footnote. At the least, it's Bruckheimer's first medical drama, so that's notable. It may also be the show that proves to CBS how valuable "Numb3rs" is and earns that mathematical procedural another season. Plus, not that you'd ever know or guess in a million years, "Miami Medical" is creator Jeffrey Lieber's first series credit since a little show called "Lost" on ABC. So that's actually three footnotes, all more memorable than anything in the content of "Miami Medical."
"Miami Medical" premieres at 10 p.m. on Friday, April 2 on CBS.
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