powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


Get real: Boston Med gives ABC a hospital series with a wealth of unscripted drama

Steady hands, steadier camera on Boston Med. ABC photo

Premiering: Thursday, June 24th at 9 p.m. (central) on ABC
Starring: Staffers and patients at three prestigious Boston hospitals
Produced by: Terence Wrong

ER "Nurse of the Year" Amanda Grabowski is a classic TV character, even though she very much exists in real life.

Fast forward to Episode 3 of Boston Med, ABC's latest summertime docudrama from filmmaker Terence Wrong. Grabowski, in a reference to ABC's Grey's Anatomy, is discoursing on "hospital cute" vs. overall coolness outside the workplace.

"You know what," she tells a grinning co-worker. "There's no McDreamys or McSteamys walkin' around here. There's McDumb. McDud."

Grabowski is pleasantly-looking herself. And her blanket statement doesn't quite hold for a young doc named Rob, who subsequently asks her out and leaves her a bit atwitter at the prospect. After their date -- they take tango lessons with other friends -- Grabowski tells him the next day at Massachusetts General, "You passed. Outside of here, you're like cool, too. All right, go home, go to bed. Now you can sleep soundly."

Boston Med, which will have an eight-episode run starting Thursday, June 24th at 9 p.m. (central), is mostly about the challenging cases confronting the very adept staffs at three of the city's first-rate hospitals. But moments like these give the series an unforced, relatable feel that works very well in small doses. Oh the humanity. You need that, too.

Filmmaker Terence Wrong knows this terrain very well. His first series for ABC, 2000's acclaimed Hopkins 24/7, had a 2008 sequel in Hopkins. Both were produced under the ABC News division, as were 2002's Boston 24/7 (a dissection of the city's local government), 2003's NYPD 24/7 and 2005's Hooking Up, a look at online dating that turned out to be the least of his efforts.

Boston Med spends much of its opening hour on double-lung transplant surgeries and the facial reconstruction of a police officer whose jaw was shattered when shot in the line of duty.

Jaunty surgeon Daniel "Dibar" Dibardino orchestrates the transplants, with viewers also meeting the two recipients. One of them, Mary Ann White, seems sweet as pie. Widowed at age 35, she raised four children on her own before remarrying a guy who's clearly very devoted to her. You want them to get every extra year they can together.

Oral-Maxillofacial surgeon Maria Troulis handles the episode's other major procedure. She seems like a doctor made in heaven, compassionate and remarkably dexterous in removing what seems like a giant-sized, misshapen bullet before stitching everything back together again.

Easy-going Pina Patel, in her fourth and final year of an emergency medicine residency, is also featured in Thursday's first hour. She's still a little uncertain of herself while absorbing both criticism and praise from higher-ups.

Next week's Episode 2 both introduces nurse Grabowski and tugs at emotions with compelling stories of an elderly man with a cancerous mass surrounding his lungs and an expectant mother whose husband is stationed in Iraq and who knows that her firstborn son will have a serious heart condition that demands immediate surgery.

Grabowski, for her part, runs afoul of a college student who nearly drank himself to death. His face is obscured and his name is bleeped -- obviously because he didn't want to be seen this way on national TV.

"He can tell me to go 'f myself' as much as he wants," she says after the patient demands to be released in time to turn in an exam. "I liked him much better when he was unconscious."

Boston Med perhaps deploys a little too much pop mood music for its own good. And the repeated vanity shots of Boston get a bit redundant over time. Fenway Park does look great, though, at the close of Episode 3.

All in all, you'll get more genuine drama in one episode than in an entire summer season of ABC's new Rookie Blue, which premieres on the same night at 8 p.m. Boston Med grabs and holds, gifting viewers with a bracing hot weather "reality" series that for a change gives the genre a good name.

GRADE: A-minus