Boston Med -- TV Review



Cable and broadcast networks have transformed summer from a repository of reruns to a fast-paced battleground in which new series are launched faster than bottle rockets on the Fourth of July.

It's hard to keep track of the summer barrage, but it would be a shame if "Boston Med," an eight-part gem, got lost in the telecast clutter. This latest production from Terence Wrong and ABC News is as ambitious as it is thrilling, a beautiful collage of life-and-death drama, raw courage, medical miracles and human foibles.

Wrong has a well-deserved reputation for assembling compelling documentaries, including, two years ago, "Hopkins," the Peabody Award-winning series set at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. This time, he traveled to Boston and trained his cameras on three of the most highly regarded hospitals in the country: Massachusetts General, Brigham and Womens Hospital, and Childrens Hospital.

Although the presence of a camera crew is bound to alter reality, there is nonetheless a sense that most of what is seen consists of unguarded and candid moments. For one thing, medical personnel are used to being observed. For another, the real emotion of many of these situations makes it unlikely that the subjects are distracted by the presence of the documentary crew.

The series would be sufficiently fascinating if it limited itself to some of the more incredible and heart-tugging cases that come through the automatic doors. There's the cop shot in the jaw when he interrupted a robbery, the fetus diagnosed with a life-threatening heart defect, the young dad with cancer dangerously close to the optic nerve, the prospective lung-transplant recipients who are running out of time and, perhaps most amazing, the face-transplant operation.

But Wrong has bigger plans. Before this series ends, he introduces viewers to the people behind the medicine and reveals, at least to a degree, their lives and hopes. Making these people multidimensional adds even more to the cases in which they are involved.

It's soon clear that the people that make these Boston hospitals work pay a big price for their skills and dedication. There is little time outside the job for socializing, and relationships with colleagues aren't exactly how they appear on scripted shows. "There's no McDreamy or McSteamy here," says ER nurse Amanda Grabowski, a sweetheart in and out of scrubs.

Even self-assured interns like Andrew ElBardissi get frustrated with hospital flirtations. "The old nurses hone in on you to prevent you from eating their young," he complains.

For a truly rewarding viewing experience, make the rounds at "Boston Med."

Airdate: 10-11 p.m. Thursday, June 24 (ABC)
Production: ABC News
Executive producer/producer: Terence Wrong
Senior executive producer: Rudy Bednar
Supervising producers: Sedika Mofadidi, Carl Hansen
Series producer: Gena Konstantinakos
Producers: Erica Baumgart, Monica Delarosa, Sarah Namias
Field producers: Andy Genovese, Brian Flatley
Special segment producer: Ralph Avellino
Editors: Cindy Kaplan-Rooney, Faith Jones, Pagan Harleman
Videographers: Alex Braverman, Isaac Mathes, Clarence Ting, Alana Campbell, Jack Cahill, Craig Delaval
Art director: Clauson Kelly