From the beginning, the history of TV has often been the history of medical dramas. There has always been something viewers find fascinating about the profession.
Among many other shows, there were City Hospital, The Doctor and Medic in the early '50s, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey and Marcus Welby, M.D. in the '60s, Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989), Chicago Hope and ER in 1994, House and Grey's Anatomy in 2004, Chicago Med (2015) and last season's top new drama, The Good Doctor. It seems we never tire of them.
And now, Fox has one more -- a pretty good one based on the two episodes I've seen.
Fox really wants you to sample The Resident because it's rolling it out at 9 p.m. today after the NFC Championship game. The series makes its regular time period premiere at 8 p.m. Monday.
According to Fox, the series "focuses on the final years of a young doctor's training that rips back the curtain to reveal the truth of what really happens, both good and bad, in hospitals across the country."
Yikes. Do we really, really want to know what's behind the curtain? That can be scary, but no more so than all the romantic shenanigans on Grey's Anatomy.
Sample of the bad: In the midst of a casual conversation, a nurse informs us, "Medical errors rank third behind heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the U.S."
In other words, a hospital is no place to be sick.
Matt Czuchry (ZOO-krie), fresh from The Good Wife, is riveting and complex as third-year senior resident Dr. Conrad Hawkins, one of the best at (fictional) Chastain Park Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
As with many TV doctors, the bike-riding Conrad is rude, dismissive, brilliant, charming and arrogant, with a heart of gold. He specializes in unconventional methods for treating patients. In fact, he does everything in the most unconventional way possible.
In tonight's episode, Conrad takes naive, idealistic Harvard-educated intern Dr. Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal, Halt and Catch Fire) under his wing and teaches him all about "the harsh realities of medical care." Harsh reality No. 1 -- medicine is a business, like any other, and doctors are fallible.
The gritty series (segments are not for the squeamish) hits the ground running with a particularly sanguinary death during a simple appendectomy. The operation was botched by the increasingly shaky hands of chief of surgery Dr. Soloman Bell, Conrad's vain, egocentric nemesis and the public face of the hospital.
Bell's likeness is on city buses and billboards and he's the hospital's No. 1 fundraiser. Naturally he caters to the patrician over plebeian patients.
Bell is played with imperial swagger and condescension by veteran Bruce Greenwood, who first came to our attention 31 years ago as Dr. Seth Griffin on St. Elsewhere.
Emily VanCamp (Revenge) plays nurse Nic (short for Nicolette), who is, naturally, as smart as any doctor. She's Conrad's former (and future?) love interest. You'll get a kick out of what she does when Conrad maneuvers her into a storage room for some private time.
Shaunette Renee Wilson (Billions) is Dr. Mina Okafor, a brusk rising surgical star from Nigeria who has recently trained on a new robotic device that could revolutionize surgery.
Bonus: Fan favorite Melina Kanakaredes recurs as Dr. Lane Hunter, a top oncologist with dark secrets that will set off a thriller arc spanning the first season.
Kanakaredes probably has scrubs left over from playing Dr. Sydney Hansen on Providence (1999-2002) before moving over to CSI: NY for six seasons as detective Stella Bonasera (2004-2010).
Bottom line: The Resident is well-written, fast-paced and full of characters about whom you should instantly care. It could very well be your next favorite doc drama, but it'll have to work hard to replace mine, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Dr. Mike still has my heart.
• Period thriller. Set in New York in 1896, The Alienist premieres at 8 p.m. Monday on TNT and follows newspaper illustrator John Moore (Luke Evans), criminal psychologist (known as an alienist) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl) and feisty police secretary Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning) as they team up to help newly appointed police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty) find a serial killer targeting boy prostitutes.
Based on the 1994 novel by Caleb Carr, the thriller is ambitious, expensive and designed to appeal to the advertiser-coveted younger viewer. TNT's Rizzoli & Isles and Major Crimes were successful, but the audiences averaged in the 60-plus demographic that advertisers shun.
Sorry, fellow geezers. I'm just the messenger.
Going younger means The Alienist is dark and moody, even graphic in its depiction of the murders. And Evans (Gaston in Beauty and the Beast) is 38, while Fanning (The Twilight Saga) is only 23.
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Style on 01/21/2018
Print Headline: Fox medical drama The Resident premieres today