"Miami Medical" suffers from anemic storytelling

Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:50pm EDT
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By Barry Garron

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The latest collaboration of one of Hollywood's pre-eminent power couples, CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer, is "Miami Medical," a well-produced and graphic but otherwise terminally mediocre drama.

Quite possibly, CBS is signaling a similar assessment of this flashy but shallow series by scheduling it Friday night. That's where most shows go to fade, not to flower.

Regardless, it doesn't take long to realize that "Miami Medical," written by executive producer Jeffrey Lieber, is long on emotional manipulation and short on compelling characters and insightful storytelling, something of a throwback to the pre-"ER" days of Drs. Welby, Trapper John and that ilk. First-class production design and Kenneth Fink's smooth direction can't make up for a script that is mostly a hodgepodge of cliches.

As the series opens, an ice cream parlor explodes, critically injuring enough people to comprise that week's caseload. Amid the string of surgeries that ensue, the head of the trauma unit (guest star Andre Braugher) suffers a mental meltdown, leaving a trail of clothing as he walks without a word from the O.R.

Instead of pursuing the more intriguing story of surgeon stress, the focus shifts to a white-gloved power struggle between two surgeons: Chris Deleo (Mike Vogel), a hotshot Dr. Ross wannabe, and Eva Zambrano (Lana Parrilla), an angel of mercy with a medical degree. But even before that story gets traction, in walks Dr. Matthew Proctor (Jeremy Northam), a mystery man with battlefield experience and a still-fresh scar over his chest cavity. Seemingly without interviews or even a memo from administration, Dr. Proctor is in charge.

That might qualify as the most improbable of many head-scratching plot turns, but it isn't a favorite. One enjoys the kumbaya moment around one patient bed and the overall portrayal of a trauma team with a median age of about 23. Still, the biggest eye roll is when Dr. Deleo decides to operate on a dying burn victim to buy him an extra half-hour, enough time for a video hookup with his grief-stricken fiancee.

Might that give hospital accountants seizures? Don't get your scrubs in a bunch, Dr. Deleo says. "Tell 'em my credit card is in my wallet and they can charge me for it," he says defiantly. Where oh where are those death panels when you really need them?

Also starring in this medical debacle is Omar Gooding as the ever-present nurse and Elisabeth Harnois as Serena Warren, a resident who spends as much time in the O.R. as she does fretting that she looks like a teenager. As if that is out of place in this series.