Saturday , May 25 2024
Hi ho, ho hum, another medical detective show!

Medical Investigation

Last night, as the debut of NBC’s new Medical Investigation crawled to its finish, my wife turned to me and said, “Boy, it’s a good thing Mom Fox isn’t around to watch this.” My late mother-in-law was notoriously germ-phobic: she’d grown up in the shadows of the big flu epidemic and was overly familiar with such early medical forensic tomes as The Microbe Hunters. Watching NBC’s team of medical investigators desperately search for that “just one thing” responsible for the deaths of innocents would’ve been more than she could handle – even if the series is as rote and uninteresting as last year’s swiftly cancelled Threat Matrix.
M.I. (not to be confused with the much more diverting Mission: Impossible) revolves around a team of National Institutes for Health investigators – and here you thought the NIH was only good for issuing regular scare quotes about the “obesity epidemic,” right? – led by Dr. Stephen Connor (Noel McDonough, playing the role with so much pissed-off urgency you’re worried he’s gonna bust a blood vessel). First time we see Connor, he’s lightly sparring with his estranged wife at their son’s Little League game; he receives the inevitable cell phone call, but not before he’s able to give his boy some much-needed batting advice. Our hero gets choppered out of the game to the big city, where a host of average folk just like you and me are mysteriously collapsing and turning blue.

It’s the team’s task to track down the cause of this mysterious ailment as a growing number of urbanites are brought in for treatment by Dr. Natalie Durant (Kelli Williams, formerly of The Practice, still pretty whiny). Aided by a horrorflick loving former cop named Frank Powell (Troy Winbush), Connor tracks the source of this fatal medical emergency to a diner called Dobro’s, where they painstakingly attempt to uncover a common element among the stricken customers. Off on the sidelines, the team’s leggy Press Relations gal, Eva (Anna Belknap), is busy using her prep school girl wiles to distract a podgy newspaper reporter on the track of this immerging story.
As a smaller side plot, team neophyte Miles McCabe (Christopher Gorham) gets sent into the wilds to investigate an infant with mysterious bruises on his body. Both social services and the attending physician are convinced these marks are the results of parental abuse, but because both officials are played so self-righteously and self-importantly, we know that there’s gotta be another explanation. Our investigative ingenue finally cracks it, much to the relief of the child’s unjustly accused parents.
Like C.S.I. and Navy N.C.I.S., the series’ main focus is on problem solving with only a minimal nod toward characterization. Unlike the other two shows, though, M.I. proffers no engaging eccentrics – nothing like N.C.I.S.‘s improbable goth gal Abby or C.S.I.‘s Gil Grissom – unless you consider horror fannishness a sign of eccentricity. (I don’t, but perhaps I’m unduly biased on that score.) Team lead Connor, meanwhile, has to be the biggest no-nonsense bastard since Vince Edwards. (Okay, who in the room got that reference?) He’s prickly and demanding, without any of the game’s afoot sparkle of either William Petersen’s Grissom or Mark Harmon’s Jethro Gibbs. Sure, we get that this is life-&-death stuff here, but let’s not forget the thrill of the hunt. . .

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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