The Brief: Jerry Bruckheimer‘s ER: The Next Generation
This was pretty miserable. I was sat in an empty house watching this by myself, which was for the best as people would probably have thought me insane as I continually shouted at the television with variations on a theme of “oh come on”. The episode is completely predictable from start to finish, bumbling from one cliché to the next.
The characters were mostly so-so, playing traditional TV types. The head of department has a breakdown in the first few minutes of the episode and strips naked and walks out (didn’t Boston Legal start the same way?) leaving his young team somewhat leaderless until Jeremy Northam turns up to ‘subtly’ take charge. His character is about the only engaging thing in this episode actually, a former army doctor who’s now looking for sunshine, there’s a bit of Hawkeye Pierce about him and there’s some potential for some interesting relationships with his young team who have less general experience, but more specific experience in the department. The rest of the characters however are unremarkable, fast-tracked female with a will-they-won’t-they thing going on with the good looking, slightly rebellious bloke. A junior doctor still finding her feet and an all knowing head nurse who looks like a linebacker and spends most of the episode doing exposition.
As with quite a few shows on the air it just feels like a cheap reproduction of other successful shows. As it’s Bruckheimer it’s not actually cheap at all, there’s a lot of money spent on it which somehow makes it worse that it feels cheap in terms of writing and acting and story. The big action sequence in it didn’t actually blow me away (pun absolutely intended) because it felt like a processed piece of film-making. It’s the emotional difference between creating a disaster with stuntmen and real special effects and creating one using green screens and computers, one is visceral and real, the other is technical and arty.
While I acknowledge that I’m pretty hard to impress these days, I just can’t see anything in this that would appeal. The really enjoyable Trauma is struggling for viewers despite its interesting characters, big budget stunts/special effects and beautiful new location in San Francisco. If no one is watching that, I don’t really see why a knock-off ER in over-exposed Miami with whiny good looking doctors in a well funded specialist unit would succeed. And if it does, then I slightly despair. It really did just leave me with an urge to reach for the ER Season 1 dvds.