Tonight marks the return of David E. Kelley to a weekly television series. Kelley is the powerhouse producer behind such hits as “Chicago Hope,” “The Practice,” and “Boston Legal.”
Dipping into the medical genre once again, Kelley has teamed up with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the new series “Monday Mornings.” “Mornings” is based on Gupta’s novel of the same name.
Gupta, who also serves as executive producer, is chief medical correspondent for CNN and is also a practicing neurosurgeon.
The large cast, lead by Alfred Molina and Ving Rhames, features complicated characters, all of whom have personal issues that directly affect their professional lives.
As with all medical shows, every patient is at risk and no course-of-treatment decisions are without complications. There are medical, ethical and personal dilemmas galore, just as it should be in this setting.
The series takes its title from the weekly "morbidity and mortality" conference, in which each doctor’s actions are harshly critiqued. These Monday morning meetings are billed as a learning tool but are uncomfortable for all involved as they highlight mistakes made by the staff, putting each physician in the hot seat, and the conversations that ensue are certainly more than a bit heated.
While the characters are a pleasing mix of multicultural individuals, there are, at this early point in the show, too many individuals to service, making it difficult to feel attached to any of them. Fortunately, this is something that may iron itself out as the series moves along.
Having read the novel “Monday Mornings,” which I completed before I knew that it would become a television show, I remember thinking, “This seems more ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ than ‘ER,” with the focus being on the doctors personal lives rather than the patient’s issues. But, so far there are no big ‘events’ like the ones that seem to show up on ‘Grey’s’ every week and there are a few smug doctors that make it sort of ‘House’–like. Combine all of this with the type of self-evaluation by the surgeons that was ever present on “Chicago Hope” and you’ve got the initial feel of “Monday Mornings.”
It might be wise for viewers to use all of these factors as a gauge going into the show.
It’s also key to remember that this show is helmed by David E. Kelley, and if anyone can put a new spin on a somewhat overworked genre, he can. His track record shows that he’s certainly a master at it and given this, viewers would be wise to hang in for a few episodes as the characters and the style of the show will hopefully blossom into something well above standard medical fare.
“Monday Mornings” airs tonight on TNT at 10e.
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