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Miami Medical

Series Premiere
Cast: Jeremy Northam, Lana Parilla, Elisabeth Harnois, Omar Gooding, Mike Vogel
Regular airtime: Fridays, 10pm ET

(CBS; US: 2 Apr 2010)

Rock Stars

Miami Medical opens with an epigraph, informing us that the “Golden Hour” is the crucial first 60 minutes that trauma doctors have to save your life after a critical injury. In case you didn’t catch its significance, throughout the series premiere, doctor after doctor repeats or refers to it over and over. Right, got it, the trauma unit is stressful and always racing against time.


If only repetition was the show’s only problem. In fact, it has many more, from plot clichés to thin characters to cheap theatricality. The newest offering from Jerry Bruckheimer, Miami Medical‘s titling, scene changes, and commercial break transitions all look very much like those over on CSI: Miami—beaches, high rises, and palm trees shown in over-saturated colors. The accidents and traumas that bring patients to the hospital are recalled, fragmented, and replayed in ways strikingly similar to the CSI franchise’s tricks. It’s old and excessive and ultimately boring.


Even less compelling is the new show’s roster of doctors. Eva (Lana Parilla) is the consummate altruist who only cares about saving patients. She’s in competition for head of trauma with Chris (Mike Vogel), the “maverick” who utilizes “unorthodox” procedures. Dr. Serena Warren (Elisabeth Harnois) does double duty, as both the requisite pale pretty blond and the requisite newbie who is intimidated by the pace of the ER and skills of her coworkers. She’s pretty much the opposite of Tuck Brody (Omar Gooding), the head trauma nurse who is something of a reformed bad boy.


With such poorly drawn characters, Miami Medical has little chance, though it tries, desperately, of showing any edge or relevance to current social or political conditions. When Tuck tells a white patient that he used to be a rodeo bull rider in Wyoming, the man looks surprised. Tuck snips, “You didn’t know that black people do the rodeo?” Zing! We’re a post-racial society, and yet we—white patients in need of education, anyway—still harbor knee-jerk racial stereotypes!


When the staff members aren’t giving their patients a hard time, they’re dealing with the sudden departure of their former head, Dr. Raynard (Andre Braugher), who finally snaps and abandons his post by stripping naked in the middle of the ER and walking out the door. Chris and Eva wonder which one of them will get the top gig, and both go out of their way to be magnanimous, suggesting the other deserves the job. But there’s a new doc on the ward, and everyone wonders if Proctor (Jeremy Northam) will be the new boss.


With all these suds in the way, the premiere is muddled, so concerned with leading us by the nose to get the backstory that it never asks us to care about anyone. In fact, the occupational shuffling seems merely a way for Miami Medical to skew to its target audience age by ousting the older Dr. Raynard. While Proctor is slightly older than his new colleagues, he’s also clearly of the same generation. Miami Medical insists that trauma doctors are the “rock stars” of the medical world, and we all know that rock stars must be young. Like rock, Miami Medical is all artifice and performance. The wannabes play doctor and jockey for ER cred all day, then go out for obligatory beachside cocktails at night.

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