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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2009-2010 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on either a cut screened to us privately or a copy supplied by a third party NOT a screener provided by the network in question. All were received or screened prior to the networks' official mailings that went out in mid-June.]
MIAMI MEDIAL (F.K.A. MIAMI TRAUMA) (CBS)
(TBA at midseason; TRT: 39:45)
The network's description: "MIAMI TRAUMA is about a team of expert surgeons who work at one of the premiere trauma facilities in the country, where only patients with life threatening injuries are treated. Dr. Matthew Proctor (Jeremy Northam) is new to the trauma team, after a tour of duty in a MASH unit during the Gulf war. Dr. Eva Zambrano (Lana Parrilla) is a workaholic surgeon who is more comfortable in her scrubs than she is out in the real world. Dr. Christopher Deleo, "Dr. C.," is a playboy who thrives on the high-stakes of trauma medicine and is, by his own description, a genius redneck. Dr. Serena Warren (Elisabeth Harnois) is fresh out of medical school, and head nurse Tuck Brody (Omar Gooding) keeps the doctors on track and the patients' families updated in this chaotic corner of the medical profession. Together, this team of doctors excels in the "golden hour," the 60 minutes after being critically injured, when a patient's life hangs in the balance. Jerry Bruckheimer, Jeffrey Lieber and Jonathan Littman are executive producers for Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television Distribution."
What did they leave out? The role of Christopher Deleo, originally played by Richard Coyle, is being recast. Plus, look for guest spots by Andre Braugher and Robin Weigert.
The plot in a nutshell: "The first 60 minutes after a critical injury are known as the 'golden hour,'" explains the opening title cards. "Your best chance of survival is reaching the specifically trained trauma surgeons who can pull you back from the brink." Such is the case for a young pregnant couple whose ice cream run is spoiled by a gas main explosion that nearly levels an entire city block. Thankfully they - and the rest of those injured - have the best medical care the greater Miami-Dade area can offer. Or as head nurse Tuck Brody (Omar Gooding) puts it, "Five trauma suites, two helipads, a 15-bed ICU and our very own first-year surgical resident on wheels (Elisabeth Harnois's skateboarding Serena Warren)." She's part of the hospital's Alpha Team, which includes the talented Eva Zambrano (Lana Parrilla), the cocksure Christopher Deleo (Richard Coyle) and their level-headed chief William Rayner (Andre Braugher). Things, we're told, can get fast and furious, so much so that trauma docs often burn out or crack after too many years on the job.
And that's exactly what happens to Dr. Rayner in the middle of the aforementioned crisis as he strips off all his clothes and simply walks out of the hospital. Shocked that their legendary mentor is now missing in action, the rest of the team must find a way through the fallout of the gas explosion: a boy with a collapsed lung, an immigrant covered in third-degree burns, a nice fellow with a severed hand and the young couple from before. Hindering their quest however is the question of who exactly is in charge: Eva or Chris. Both were on track for Rayner's job, one of the few level one trauma positions available across the country. With Rayner gone, they each then try to position themselves as the best of the group. Nevertheless things play out in their expected ways: the mortally wounded honorably pass on, the previously thought fine turn out to be in serious trouble and those in dire straits ultimately pull through. And while shorthanded, the gang gets a boost from the newly arrived Matthew Proctor (Jeremy Northam), a semi-retired trauma doctor - with a mysterious past - who's getting back into the game. In the end, the members of Alpha Team do their jobs and a few well-deserved drinks cap another hectic day.
What works: Watching Braugher's Rayner break down is definitely jarring as it deftly sets up the anything-can-happen angle the show is aiming for. The problem is...
What doesn't: ...it misses completely. First and foremost, I was stunned by how unlikable and selfish the two leads come across as. Coyle's Chris and Parrilla's Eva seem more interested in finding out who's boss than saving their patients. Even worse, they actually try to "one up" each other with each passing case - both even manage to work in time to tell Matthew they're in charge in separate moments - as they measure their metaphorical genetalia to prove who's the better doctor. It's all quite off-putting and messy, not helped by the fits and starts of the procedural elements. Moments like everyone gathering to say goodbye to a particularly ill patient have the same emotional pull of waiters gathering around to sing "Happy Birthday" while surprises like the expecting father being revealed as in much worse shape than his wife are painfully telegraphed. Toss in some stilted dialogue (Eva to Chris: "You're a pain in my backside but if you ever need saving, I'll be there for you anyway."), some odd character development (Serena spots Matthew taking off his shirt, revealing a nasty scar over his heart) and the endless repetition of what the "golden hour" is and you have the recipe for anything but a show. Normally you can count on Bruckheimer and company to at least keep things serviceable...
The bottom line: ...but sadly that's not the case here.