11:01am PT by Lesley Goldberg
TNT's 'Monday Mornings' Offers New Window Into Medical Dramas
David E. Kelley doesn't think he's reinventing the wheel when it comes to his upcoming TNT medical drama Monday Mornings, but instead putting the confidential meetings among doctors under the microscope that hasn't been done before.
The drama, which stars Jamie Bamber andAlfred Molina is an adaptation of CNN chief medical correspondent's Dr. Sanjay Gupta's best-selling book and focuses on a fictional hospital's weekly Morbidity & Mortality meeting, where trauma surgeons keep one another in check.
"When I w as training, these are most indelible experiences I've had in my life," Gupta told reporters Friday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena. "They're so candid. They shut the doors: there are no administrators, no lawyers; it's doctors holding each other accountable."
Gupta noted that the docs often are harder and better than anybody else at keeping one another in check, and "in the quest for becoming best you can be this is what it takes. There are street fights that form and you get a glimpse of that," he added.
Kelley, whose credits include Chicago Hope andHarry's Law, said he initially was hesitant to tackle another medical drama after Chicago Hope but read Gupta's book and thought the M&M meetings made for fertile ground.
"At the onset, I was wondering how viable the M&M meetings would be over the life of the series and they're the staple of each episode," he noted of the meetings where Molina's chief of surgery takes his team through a specific case that's plumb for a breakdown. "So much of the tension in those scenes is played with Alfred discussing what the scene is about. We never know where that character is going. As a result, the viewer can never know if they're on safe footing. A lot of tension is established that way."
The series, Kelley noted, will go "behind the veil" of medical dramas in a way that previous efforts including Grey's Anatomy and ER as well as his own Chicago Hope didn't, despite similarities including a character known as 007 (RIP, Grey's Anatomy's George O'Malley).
"A medical franchise will invite comparisons to other medical franchises," Kelley said following the panel. "Are we reinventing the wheel? Probably not but is our wheel different from others that have been out there before? I think very much so."
Added Gupta: "M&M meetings don't take the place of the legal system or administrators sanctioning; Those are parallel things. This meeting is doctors on doctors. The sprit of it is you learn. Worst crime of all is mistake happens and no one learns from it. These mistakes are discussed openly and everyone hopefully gains from it."
Monday Mornings premieres Monday, Feb. 4 at 10 p.m. on TNT.