NBC is once again re-entering the medical drama genre with The Night Shift, which details the exploits of an ensemble working the late hours at a San Antonio hospital. One of the members of that ensemble is veteran TV actor Brendan Fehr, who joined BFTV on Monday to talk about how the series aims to set itself apart from your usual medical drama and what he loves about his character, Army medic turned civilian doctor Drew.
What would he say distinguishes Night Shift from others in this well-traveled genre? "What we tried to do was, we have the take of the military, which I think gives it a different spin," he told us. "And we have this group of misfits, that they all are a little uncomfortable for one reason or another. They have a secret or they have a regret. You have all these people who need to surround themselves with the chaos, whether it be the military life or an ER. None of them want to focus on themselves because it's too hard at this point. They use all their energy to help save others.
"And every show would say this, but I think it's the fact that all these people, in as different as they feel, as different places as they all come from, they all have this connection of choosing to be here," he added. "And in that sense, they have this bond. Differences aside, they always rally together and there's some camaraderie in this kind of one objective to save these people's lives."
"I'm really proud of what I've done," Brendan told us. "[With] the character of Drew, the one thing I'm proud of is [that] throughout the season, we obviously deal with his sexuality. That's a big part of it. But I wanted people to judge him based on his actions, based on what he does and how he handles situations.
An important event comes in episode four, when Drew goes on military training and doesn't get the best reception. "That was one of my favorite moments," Brendan explained. "It's the first kind of scenario where he experiences a little bit of his fear, in terms of someone who might have a problem with homosexuality in the Army. And you get to see his response and you get to see how he chooses to handle it.
"I can look back on Drew and I love the fact that he's not defined by his sexuality," he continued. "I'm not sure that should define anyone. What should define a man or a woman is what they do, how they treat others, and the kind of person that they want to be."
Medical dramas usually deal with some pretty graphic and intense stuff, so how has working on one been for Brendan? "I've been all right," he laughed. "I'm the farthest thing from a hypochrondriac. I can have someting really obviously wrong with me and I'll be like 'I'll just give it a day or two'...I do not want to go to a hospital!"
Night Shift marks the return to series-regular status for Brendan, who's still best remembered from his role as Michael Guerin on the teen sci-fi drama Roswell. "That's a show that, I always loved it, I always appreciated it, but just like anything with time, I've learned to appreciate it more," he reflected. "That character, he was a really great character. I wish it would've gone longer, in hindsight."
(He also tipped us off to the fact that the Austin Television Festival is hosting a Roswell reunion this Sunday, June 8, including himself and our friend Nick Wechsler; if you're headed to ATX this weekend, keep an eye out for that.)
Of course, Brendan has done plenty of work since Roswell's end more than a decade ago, with recurring roles on CSI: Miami and Bones, as well as the miniseries Samurai Girl. He's also become a happily married father of three. He discussed the journey from there to here with us, too.
"I've been fortunate," he continued. "I've had my ups and downs. The down times, they're there and I've gotten through them, and they make you appreciate the times when things are going well.
"I think with Night Shift, it's taken me longer to get a regular television show back on the air, but I appreciate it that much more...Right now, between the family and the job, I couldn't be happier."
The Night Shift airs Tuesdays at 10 PM ET/PT on NBC. For more on Brendan, you can follow him on Twitter (@UnrealFehr).