Television

'Miami Medical,' premiering Friday on CBS

Mary McNamara
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

A few minutes into "Miami Medical," Andre Braugher walks out, and this is a red flag worth heeding. Braugher is a fine actor having a great year, costarring in "Men of a Certain Age" on TNT. So when Jerry Bruckheimer's new CBS drama establishes him as William Rayner, chief of a crack emergency medical team, things seem promising. Unfortunately, within scant minutes Braugher's surgeon has an inexplicable nervous breakdown. He walks out of the hospital, and presumably our lives, shedding his clothes as he goes.

This is not, by the way, played for laughs.

No, it is played for fraught, the specialty of Bruckheimer TV productions. "Miami Medical," which has its premiere Friday night (another red flag), is not just about the staff of an emergency room, it's about the Alpha Team at the Top Trauma Hospital in the Country, a group of doctors who specialize in "the golden hour" — the 60 minutes after critical injury occurs and Life Hangs in the Balance. ("Eleventh Hour" would have been a better term, if only because it does not evoke a pornographic term, but alas, Mr. Bruckheimer already used it as the title of the short-lived Rufus Sewell vehicle.)

Like "Eleventh Hour," "Miami Medical" stars a British actor playing a romantic character with a dark and tragic past. In this case, it's Jeremy Northam (mercifully allowed to retain his accent) as Dr. Matthew Proctor, whose tour of duty in the first Gulf War left him craving the excitement of the, um, golden hour. It also, apparently, grants him permission to say the most outrageous things, including: "This is like 'M(ASTERISK)A(ASTERISK)S(ASTERISK)H' in paradise." (The sound you hear is the late, great Larry Gelbart spinning in his grave.)

The show dutifully follows the current procedural template: Something cleverly terrible happens to ordinary people and the stars try to fix it. In this case, an explosion critically injures a bunch of folks, and because nothing says "pilot" like children in peril, these include a very pregnant woman and a teenager.

We are introduced to Miami Medical by nurse Tuck Brody (Omar Gooding) explaining to a group of newbies that this is no ordinary emergency room. In the absence of Dr. Rayner, the gorgeous and ambitious Dr. Eva Zambrano (Lana Parrilla) briefly vies with overly-pleased-with-himself Dr. C (Mike Vogel) for top position. But then Proctor shows up, demanding "two units of O neg stat," quickly gets the lay of the land from resident Serena Warren (Elisabeth Harnois) and is soon running the show.

Parrilla is a compelling presence, and it's marvelous to see Northam all modern and un-martyred after his terrific turn as Thomas More in "The Tudors." But there is a strange lack of chemistry among the cast, perhaps because they are continually forced to deliver monologues on how difficult their jobs are and say things such as: "Life, so bloody beautiful."

Although the show is overloaded with gruesome injuries and the message that even an ordinary day can go horribly wrong, the attention remains on the doctors as the real victims of the trauma they deal with every day.

That is, of course, the undercurrent of every medical and police show since the stoic Joe Friday retired — that the business of heroism is a brutal one and those who spend their days trying to save lives do so at their own emotional peril. But this message is much more powerful as subtext, revealed over time. Character-driven procedurals require a courtship period — before we are interested in their scars and hang-ups, we have to care a little about the characters. "Miami Medical" feels more like a therapist's office than an emergency room and no one wants to go into therapy on the very first date.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Music

Inventions' 'Continuous Portrait' Blurs the Grandiose and the Intimate

Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium side project, Inventions are best when they are navigating the distinction between modes in real-time on Continuous Portrait.

Music

Willie Jones Blends Country-Trap With Classic Banjo-Picking on "Trainwreck" (premiere)

Country artist Willie Jones' "Trainwreck" is an accessible summertime breakup tune that coolly meshes elements of the genre's past, present, and future.

Music

2011's 'A Different Compilation' and 2014 Album 'The Way' Are a Fitting Full Stop to Buzzcocks Past

In the conclusion of our survey of the post-reformation career of Buzzcocks, PopMatters looks at the final two discs of Cherry Red Records' comprehensive retrospective box-set.

Music

Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez

Music

Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.

Music

"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.

Music

The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.

Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.