Posts Tagged ‘ code black ’

Code Black: Pilot Review

Code Black Title ScreenIt’s ER. That’s it. That’s the summary. If you’ve seen ER, it’s just that again. With less George Clooney.

I’m not saying that trying to do a new version of ER is a bad thing. I mean ER was great (at least at first) and emergency medicine is intrinsically well suited to episodic television; it’s easy to get a mix of high intensity action, emotional melodrama and the occasional comedy from your rotating cast of victims and families, while your main cast of doctors provide the steady background of character development and relationships. It practically writes itself.

To be honest, I think Code Black’s biggest mistake is that it desperately chases a gimmick to give it a unique selling pointl that. Their ‘thing’ is that there’s a colour code system to how busy the emergency room is, and at code black the demand of patients basically outstrips the supply of medics. Code Black is set in the busiest emergency room in the country and they basically end up at code black all the time (or roughly once per episode I’d imagine). This is pretty much an excuse for all the characters to cram into a ludicrously small area and take creative, risky, and oh so very dramatic new ways to treat gory injuries. Except that the whole thing felt so monumentally artificial that even the actors struggled to deliver the lines. “Ok people, we’re at code black. God help us.” Really?!

The pilot structure here is “first day at work”, four new residents arrive for their first day as proper doctors. They too are monumentally artificial, there’s the smart one, the eager one, the sleazy one and the hopeless one. (respectively Christina, Izzy, Alex and George for Grey’s Anatomy fans). I know they have to introduce characters fast, but it didn’t really inspire me.

The ‘proper’ doctors are a little more interesting, largely thanks to some pretty solid actors in the roles. The script and character biographies are still mediocre, but the actors are doing a good job adding some depth and charm through little moments. Plus they actually felt like a believable team, a group that didn’t necessarily always agree with each other but respected each other and had shorthands and shared experiences.

The nuts and bolts of this are solid enough and I think most of the issues are symptoms of pilot-pressure, rather than necessarily being a sign of doom. It doesn’t have the instant appeal and style of ER, or Grey’s Anatomy, or the short lived Trauma which I really loved, but it’s got some potential if the writers just relax a bit and write their own show rather than trying to blend everybody else’s.

The Upfronts 2015: CBS

cbsCBS continues to have an impressively stable, although increasingly aged line up, not leaving much space for new shows. They do seem to be trying to go in a different direction with their new series, but they feel very out of place when surrounded by so many established procedurals.

Cancelled or finished
csiAfter 15 series, 335 episodes, CSI is finally being put out to pasture. The mothership that spawned dozens of wannabes and spent 10 years in the top 10 watched shows has seen its ratings decline steadily in the last few years and now it can’t compete with its own descendants. I’ve been a loyal watcher throughout and while it’s rarely been a favourite show, it’s always been a reassuring presence and I will actually miss it. There’ll be a final two hour TV movie, featuring the return of Grissom and Catherine.

mentalistI stuck with Stalker the whole season and I’m not entirely sure why, the setup wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, the stories weren’t particularly original and the characters weren’t that charismatic. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t outstanding. I’m not sure I’d’ve bothered with season 2 even if it had been picked up and I’m not really mourning its passing. Likewise I’m not that disappointed The Mentalist wound up after seven seasons. I made it through the first two seasons but found it frustratingly inconsistent in tone. Two and a Half Men finally completely and utterly died after 12 seasons. I’m guessing Jon Cryer mourned that and wished his cast mates hadn’t screwed everything up for him.
Also cancelled: Battle Creek and The McCarthys were new series, The Millers was cancelled after its second season. None of which I have any memory of hearing about.

NCISCBS remains the home of the procedurals and even without Grand-pa CSI there’s a bevy of relations: CSI: Navy (NCIS – Season 13), CSI: Navy + Sunshine (NCIS: Los Angeles – season 7), CSI: Navy + Jazz (NCIS: New Orleans – season 2), CSI: Surfs Up (Hawaii Five-O – season 6), CSI: Serial Killers (Criminal Minds – season 11), CSI: Sherlock (Elementary – season 4), CSI: Pre-Crime (Person of Interest – season 5), CSI: Online (Scorpion – season 2) oh and CSI: Cyber (an actual proper CSI spin off going into season 2). Blue Bloods is more NYPD Blue 2010 than a CSI spin off and Tom Selleck’s moustache only held my attention for 3 seasons, but apparently other people have more commitment to it because it will be back for season 6 next year.

goodwifeOther dramas that are renewed are the critically acclaimed but ratings challenged The Good Wife, although season 6 hasn’t been as good as previously. Madam Secretary has some potential, but is disappointingly light when I was hoping for something more politically hefty. I watched a few episodes of Extant but got bored with the conspiracy stuff, I thought it was a one off so am a bit surprised to see it renewed for season 2. Under the Dome returns for season 3 but lost me with the utterly ridiculous bisected cow in the first episode.

The Big Bang TheoryThe unlikely juggernaut that is The Big Bang Theory continues with huge ratings and last year was given a three-year renewal which carries it through to next season. Mike and Molly and 2 Broke Girls return for seasons 6 and 5 respectively, Mom will be back for season 3 and Matthew Perry has finally broken his curse of first season cancellations as his remake of The Odd Couple is renewed!

New this autumn

Angel From Hell: Jane Lynch is either a stalker or a guardian angel. Jane Lynch is kind of fantastic and with a slightly more subtle character and better writing (in the trailer at least) than she got lumbered with on Glee, this could be great.

Code Black: It’s ER moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. I’m a sucker for this stuff and this looked pretty well done.

Life in Pieces: Hey, dating is tricky, precocious children are hilarious, parenting is hard and old people are whacky but look how uplifting it can all be when we come together as a family. Sod off. Colin Hanks deserves better.

Limitless: Based on the film, one pill makes you super smart and effectively a superhero. It inevitably gets complicated. The film was ok and I guess it’s a good set up but the supreme close up of Bradley Cooper asking if I can remember what it’s like to be in my mother’s womb is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.

Supergirl: Basically… Superman’s cousin. The trailer is pretty much the whole pilot boiled down so you may want to skip it. It doesn’t look bad, but it’s an extremely strange choice for CBS. This would infinitely more at home on The CW and I think it’s going to struggle to get the ratings that CBS want.

New later in the year
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders – another attempt to land a Criminal Minds spin off, this time starring Gary Sinise and taking the show on an international tour. The planted pilot wasn’t bad (although Anna Gunn has apparently departed the series) and the added complexity of dealing with international law has some potential. Sinise needs to make sure he’s not just recreating his character from CSI New York though.

Rush Hour – Buddy Cop drama based on the films.