Is it possible to be a doctor while sacrificing your morals in the process? What would happen if the doctor in question was walking a very thin line between functional and falling apart at the seams? That's part of the premise behind USA's new medical drama "Rush," which had one such doctor operating with his own moral code, or lack thereof. Sure, the show has been done before to a certain degree, but the leading character proved to be a challenge because he was still an enigma to viewers for the time being.
"Rush" followed Dr. William Rush (Tom Ellis) who once had it all in the form of a promising medical career as he worked alongside his father and a woman that he truly loved. Unfortunately, one mistake cost him his job, his relationship with his father, and the woman that he loved because he couldn't handle the disappointment. The only constant in his life was his best friend Alex Burke (Larenz Tate) who has stayed by his side, even when he disagreed with his choices. Rush decided to give up practicing medicine the conventional way and decided to become a "medical fixer" who only helped patients that paid up front. His patients were often the wealthiest, and the most questionable, individuals in Los Angeles that could destroy or kill him if they wanted to keep him silent. In the course of six years, his new medical practice has thrived with the help of his trusted assistant Eve Parker (Sarah Habel) who often helped to guide Rush through his daily life and became his conscience when it was necessary. Occasionally, Eve found it hard to fathom why Rush chose to help certain patients who didn't deserve to be helped, such as an athlete who abused his girlfriend when things didn't go their way. She would've been even more surprised when Rush chose to help save an associate of his friendly drug dealer Manny Marquis (Rick Gonzalez) who regularly supplied him with a routine batch of cocaine to keep Rush from feeling any type of guilt over his actions. Rush's decision to help Manny forced him to pull in Alex to help steal blood from the hospital's blood bank, which ended up getting Alex suspended as a result. Rush was forced to call his estranged father to help bail his loyal friend out of a mess that he created. Luckily, Rush was able to cross paths with his ex, but he reacted badly to a secret that she shared with him and that dangerous call from Manny ended things before they truly took off. Will Rush be able to get a second chance or will he have to forget about her forever?
In terms of questions, the show's biggest question was whether viewers could root for a leading character who seemed to be more about his vices than finding a moral code in a city full of immoral patients paying for discretion instead of proper medical care. The first two episodes showed Ellis' charming but morally empty Rush on the brink of collapse after doing too much of just about everything. It would've been nice for viewers to be properly introduced to the character before diving in fully into his new unique career path. A five to ten minute introduction of how Ellis' Rush went from a respected doctor at a hospital to a drug addicted private doctor was needed to understand how the character changed in the course of six years. Something was needed to help viewers follow the course of the series premiere to see what led the character to doing this and how his supposed moral code was created in the first place. Let's hope that a future episodes will clear all, or at the very least some, of this up before viewers start to lose interest very fast. One upcoming episode will have Harry Hamlin appearing as Rush's father, which could help alleviate some of those unanswered questions, or create new ones. Only time will tell. The show should be careful of running the risk of falling into the same pratfalls that "House" started to fall into during the latter portion of its long run if they want to keep viewers. The character should be likable, but not too likable to keep things interesting when Rush breaks another rule to help a patient. The series also needs to build up his supporting cast better in an effort to explain how they got pulled into Rush's complicated orbit and why they continue to stick around no matter what the character does to them repeatedly. It would be nice to see how Tate's Alex and Habel's Eve became part of Rush's life by delving into their backgrounds as well to give viewers a clearer picture of how they ended up being Rush's allies. Depending on the circumstances, one day they could even have their own storylines every once in a while if the show makes it to another season.
As for breakout performances, Ellis and Habel led the pack as their characters seemed to be the yin and yang of most of the main storylines going on in the first two episodes. Ellis' Rush was presented as an erratic doctor who loved the thrill of doing his job, but not everything else that came with it. He made Rush someone that had the charm of a gentleman, but the soul of the devil in disguise. Despite his best intentions, the character usually broke the heart of every woman who crossed his path whenever it got to be too serious. A prime example would be in the series premiere when his ex confessed something deeply personal and he failed to handle the truth properly, which ended things before it began. Even though the character development was rather rough early on, Ellis managed to display Rush's humanity rather briefly after he treated an abusive athlete's girlfriend one too many times. He displayed Rush's disgust without saying a word, but he expressed his anger far better when he carried out his frustration by doing what he should've done sooner as a way to tell his patient that they were wrong to do what the did. It was a powerful scene, but it deserved to be short lived for now to keep viewers guessing for the time being. Ellis' Rush also had chemistry with guest star Odette Annable, who played Rush's ex in the premiere, which holds out a very slight chance of hope that she could return given the right storyline. He also had a strong rapport with Tate that occasionally bordered on buddy comedy material, but their scenes together provided some much needed levity every so often as an escape from the often lackluster medical cases that were resolved far too quickly. Habel, on the other hand, had the challenging task of trying to be the show's moral center without being too over the top. She has managed to do that so far in the early episodes, even though Eve did have a minor lapse of judgment when she confronted the abused girlfriend to advise her to dump her abusive boyfriend. Sure, the scene was a tad cliche, but it provided insight as to why the character possibly ended up working for her rather unique boss. Let's hope that future episodes will continue to shed some more light into Habel's Eve and her dynamic with Ellis' Rush that provided to be the main driving force of the show for the moment. Fingers crossed that it will continue as the season progressed.
"Rush" premiered on July 17th and airs Thursdays at 9:00 PM on USA.
Verdict: Ellis' Rush made for a promising leading character, but the problem was that viewers didn't know enough of the character to root for him just yet. The supporting cast also needed to be fleshed out a little bit too as a way to help humanize Rush's often immoral environment.
TV Score: 2 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)