'Chicago Med': TV Review

Chicago Med Pilot Still - H 2015
Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Chicago Med Pilot Still - H 2015

It's a hospital drama - people get hurt and come for help.

Set your alarm or drink a pot of coffee - this sleepy, bland and barely trying hospital drama wants to steal an hour of your life.

You can’t really fault NBC and Dick Wolf for cranking out another Chicago product (after Fire and P.D.). NBC doesn’t really have a lot of other ideas and people seem to slug down this Wolf gruel without much thought. If there’s not a Chicago Liquor Store and Chicago Bikram Yoga next season it will be a pretty big letdown.

But even graded on the Dick Wolf Franchise Curve, Chicago Med is spectacularly underwhelming. It’s like everybody involved sighed deeply at the prospect of yet another hospital drama and then shuffled slowly to the set, where they were given a script pasted together with lines from hundreds of other hospital dramas and then filmed the whole thing while all involved kept one eye on the clock.

It’s one thing to come out of the gates and try (and fail) to be aggressively exciting – hello, Code Black – but to offer up such a tired copy of countless tired copies before it is alarmingly like announcing the death of the genre going forward (we can only hope – though future series creators will look at Chicago Med and think, “We can do better than that in our sleep.”)

Ah, sleep. Yeah, that’s a dangerous side effect of Chicago Med. Consult your physician. Are you feeling woozy at the very idea of another hospital drama? Do you get a dull pain when you see storylines revolving around the cocky new doctor, the deer-in-the-headlights medical student, the hospital lawyer who actually says, “So much easier to run a hospital without doctors”?

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Does your head lull forward when sassy nurses talk or a jaded older doctor walks in the room or a patient thought totally fine suddenly has a seizure or otherwise falls into a life and death moment? Yes, you could be suffering from Sleepy Scrubs Disorder.

Look, there’s not a whole lot to say about Chicago Med and its incessant blandness. If you’re looking for bright spots then there’s Colin Donnell as a trauma surgeon who will give you Jon Hamm feels and who pretty much single handedly stops the narcoleptic stupor from coming on. There are two wonderful actors in S. Epatha Merkerson and Oliver Platt being underserved as a hospital administrator and psychiatrist respectively – though it probably doesn’t help that both have roles where they are required to feel beaten down to some extent, which translates to the screen as tired, which completely fits the motif here.

There appears to be nary an original plot device or line of dialogue in the Chicago Med pilot which is both alarming and impressive. If the show itself doesn’t want to try, why should the audience? This pilot is so rote and sleepy the only logical second episode plot would be an hour of watching everybody snoring at home or leaving on vacation. By the midway point of the pilot (which, by the way, features a derailed train from an elevated platform, causing mass trauma and peopling the fictional hospital with bad acting), I began hoping that the boredom in front of me was just a set-up for the second half of the show, where an entirely new hospital would arrive, put Chicago Med on ventilated life support and infuse the whole show with takeover energy.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, that person you thought might die actually died; the lost cause rallied back to life; that poor kid needing the transplant got it in the waning minutes and everyone wore their feelings on their faces as the camera predictably cut to them and the predictable music played everybody home -- to bed, I assume.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com
Twitter: @BastardMachine