It’s been awhile since a good medical drama caught TV viewers’ eyes. Does The Night Shift have what it takes?
NBC is dishing up an impressive lineup heading into the summer, including this offering set in San Antonio. According to some critics, it’s an attempt to go back to the magic days of ER, but in a low-key summer environment where audiences don’t have the highest expectations to begin with. Kickstarting a series outside the TV premier season is a risky move, but sometimes it pays off.
The show focuses on the craziness that happens in an ER in the dead of the night, with each episode happening somewhere between dawn and dusk. The majority of characters are ex-military personnel who are charged with keeping the most at-risk patients alive.
Plenty of technical advisors are on board to ensure everything from the medical supplies featured to the types of accidents depicted are technically correct and handled well. The bad news is that some early reviews compare it to a Beetlejuice-meets-The-Fonz remake.
A bold move
The new series was created by Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs, a team who offered the cult fave Freaks and Geeks and even the 90210 remake. This is a completely different direction for them, which could pan out or not.
Basing a drama in an ER opens the way for endless plot twists, and they’ve got enough familiar faces on board to at least get viewers to tune in. You’ll find Freddy Rodriguez from Six Feet Under, Jill Flint from Royal Pains, and Brendan Fehr from Roswell, to name just a few.
Playing doctor is one of the oldest requests in the book, and just might be the opportunity to boost these actors closer to near A-list status. The underdog of the group might just be Eoin Macken, who plays the bad boy-turned-medic.
The show quietly debuted on May 27, 2014, following a massive two-hour episode of America’s Got Talent. So far, the reviews are mixed but there’s still plenty of time for it to build a following.
It’s also wise to remember that not every medical show was well received at first, including ER and Grey’s Anatomy.
No surprises here
There’s nothing outlandish or shocking about the show, so it needs to pull through on pure medical drama chops alone. So far, it has rarely taken any action outside of the ER, and even those snippets are simply following doctors as they respond to accidents.
The characters themselves are basic, but it remains true to its mission and genre. The one golden touch the series does have is the strong military connection; it wisely launched around Memorial Day and will play out leading up to the Fourth of July.
The integration of military trauma focuses on the Middle East, which will resonate with a number of Americans who have military connections. In this Obamacare-marinated world, that might be enough to draw a strong enough audience until the series hits a good stride.
It may have what it takes, but it’s competing against some serious shows that have more to offer than just a good old-fashioned drama premise.
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