For all the big things they get wrong I have to say, The Night Shift, does a pretty darn good job in getting the little things spot on. Yet another hospital drama in a sea of hospital drama’s the networks churn out, The Night Shift, manages to do something the others don’t. Make you laugh.
**SEMI-SPOILER’S to follow**
Renewed for a third season, the first two seasons take the viewer into a very specific kind of ER. Located in the city of San Antonio, TX, the doctor’s and staff of the San Antonio Medical Center, are a mix of civilians and veterans. This particular medical center services a community mostly comprised of veterans, soldiers and their families. So when a soldier or the family member of a soldier arrive at the ER, these night shift doctor’s will make deals with the devil to keep them alive. This added layer of tension definitely stirs in an interesting ingredient to the medical drama pot. Not nearly as serious or funny as a show like, M*A*S*H, it never-the-less delivers in many surprising ways.
S1 opens up with Dr. TC Callahan (Eoin Macken), an ex-Army medic who pretty much runs the show at the medical center. The good news is, he’s a great leader, respected by all and a doctor who will stop at nothing to save his patients. The bad news is, he’s been spiraling for a while, struggling with PTSD and as S1 unravels, so does he. Not to fear though, he slowly recovers and is a better doctor, friend and leader because of it.
What I like most about this show is the diversity of the cast. As in life and especially in the military, you run across all kinds of different people. This is a show where hero’s come in all kinds of shades and genders and backgrounds. As I mentioned in the opening, this show gets a lot of little things right. Tender, delicate moments that may have been founded on a generic or over-used plotline, but are saved by the performances of the incredible actors this show has assembled. Okay, okay, "incredible" might not describe all of them, but just enough of them to make a big difference for this viewer.
S1 scratches the surface with the characters, moving them all toward an emotional place many of them had been fighting for years. S2 is all about the fallout of them moving through those places and the consequences of their decisions, resulting in heartache, freedom, resolution, love and renewed determination.
They make you laugh: This night shift is an ER where practical jokes, the busting of many chops and all around Tom foolery are as common as a cold and everyone can be a victim (See what I did just there?). Usually, the victims are the newest additions to this tight nit medical community. In this case, Dr. Paul Cummings (Robert Baily Jr.), Dr. Krista Bell-Hart (Jeananne Goosen) and Dr. Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez). This ER, which more often than not has its own battle field, cuts into the tension with just enough comic relief to make the more serious moments more important. This is one of those little things I mentioned that the show gets really right.
I’m glad it’s been renewed for a third season. Despite being somewhat predictable and the doctor’s constantly saying things like, “I promise [insert loved one’s name] will be okay,” (something real doctor’s would never guarantee) the cast and their chemistry are superb. This show doesn’t shy away from real issues like gays in the military, veteran’s affairs/care and PTSD, though there is a bit of a wrapped in a red bow sitch with many of the storylines. I wouldn’t mind if S3 put the brakes on show endings where impossible situations somehow work out. It’s a show where life and death collide, so it’s understood that a happy ending is optional.
A long-time fan of Brendan Fehr (Dr. Drew Allister), I wasn’t surprised by his quietly powerful performance, in fact, he's the reason I decided to tune in and give it a shot. What surprises me is that I do enjoy the show and what his cast mates bring to it as much as I do. After two seasons, audiences haven’t quite made their commanding presence in the ratings known. Luckily, NBC is willing to give them a third season to win our hearts over for good. I hope they don’t waste what might be their last chance. Go big or go home.