Does TV have room for another hospital series, particularly one with a genius genius doctor on the same network? And just what is The Resident‘s point of difference in an already-crowded genre?
These were the questions uppermost in my mind as I watched the first episode of the US drama starting next week on Seven.
Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife) is the star of this new show -despite what local promos may suggest- as senior resident doctor Conrad Hawkins. At Atlanta’s teaching hospital Chatsain Park Memorial he has the knack for instant diagnosis, the ability to always be right, toswill energy drinks and to walk hospital corridors with his hands seemingly attached to his hips.
He may have the hots for Nurse Nicolette Nevin (Emily VanCamp) but while she tells herself she is over their relationship, she still respects his talents.
Eager young Dr. Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal) is straight out of Harvard and assigned to Conrad, who challenges him every step of the way.
“Everything you knew about medicine is wrong,” Conrad tells him.
While Devon wants to be paired with someone more conventional, Nurse Nic talks him out of it with an odd allegory about grumpy mechanics getting the job done in record time and half the cost of polite, expensive mechanics.
“Conrad’s the guy who tightens the bolt,” she assures. Okaaaaay…..
Meanwhile the chief of surgery, Dr. Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood) is losing his grip, literally, in the operating theatre and patients are dying. In any other show this might have been a dark secret but in The Resident our young gun doctors know exactly what is going on.
Conrad threatens to expose him, on the eve of an important surgery with ground-breaking technology ‘The Hand of God.’ It isn’t clear why he doesn’t raise it with the hospital nor address his own duties to the Hippocratic Oath. Bell’s failings are an open secret in this hospital.
Despite House-like scenes of doctor-as-God, the most interesting aspect to The Resident is its acknowledgment of medical failure. Medical error is the third biggest cause of death in the US, an interesting proposition to explore in a genre that is frequently heroic.
“What they don’t teach us in medical school is that there are so many ways to do harm,” says Conrad.
It could have been a more rewarding experience had it afforded more room to humility and fragility, but Aussie director Phillip Noyce cleverly navigates around its shortcomings to rescue it from being either pedestrian or over-the-top. Just.
The face-off between Conrad and Bell is arguably the stuff of daytime TV melodrama and whilst The Resident may not attain the heights of The Good Doctor, it holds up across its opening hour, with moderate doses of suspended disbelief.
The Resident airs 9pm Monday on Seven.