Hey TV.com, Should I Watch NBC's New Medical Drama The Night Shift?

By Cory Barker

May 26, 2014

It's Memorial Day and summer is almost here, but that doesn't mean that the constant stream of new TV is going to stop. NBC is about to bring us a brand-new medical drama, the San Antonio-set The Night Shift. But is the show a legitimate attempt to recapture some ER magic in a low-stakes summer environment, or simply yet another case of a network burning off a show outside of the traditional TV season? Find out in the latest edition of Hey TV.com, Should I Be Spending More Time Outside and Less Time Programming My DVR?!

The Night Shift? Wait, NBC is so desperate that it' remaking a 1992 movie starring the Fonz and Beetlejuice? 

If only, right? Unfortunately, this version of The Night Shift is a literally titled series about the insanity that occurs in an San Antonio emergency room between sundown and sunrise. Many of the employees of San Antonio Memorial have previously served in the military, and they work to keep their patients (who are often of the low-income variety) alive while trying keep their own lives together. 

Who's behind the show and who's in it?

Somewhat oddly, The Night Shift was developed by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, a writing duo who worked on Freaks and Geeks, created ABC's Life as We Know It, and helped shepherd The CW's 90210 reboot to the airwaves. I guess they wanted to make the big jump from the melodramatics of high school life to the more adult world of the ER. The cast is full of people you'll recognize: Jill Flint (Royal Pains) plays the well-meaning shift leader; Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under) is the less well-meaning, penny-pinching administrator; and Ken Leung (Lost), Brendan Fehr (Roswell), and Daniella Alonso (Revolution) portray a trio of other doctors. The key face you might not be familiar with is the very handsome one belonging to Eoin Macken, who plays bad boy and former war medic T.C., who's also an ex-boyfriend of and nuisance to Flint's Jordan, and current fling of Alonso's Landry. 

When does The Night Shift take over?

The series debuts on Tuesday, May 27 at 10pm after the two-hour premiere of America's Got Talent. It's the summer, but you can't say that NBC isn't trying to make this one work a little bit. 

Which of the patients in the waiting room is this show for?

Are you the kind of person who is still smarting over NBC calling the code on ER a few years back or who still scrubs into Grey's Anatomy for the shenanigans and romantic entanglements? If you answered yes to both questions, The Night Shift might be right in your wheelhouse. 

What about The Night Shift is worth saving?

Surprisingly, quite a bit. There's nothing about the show that will catch you off guard; this is a medical drama through and through. It rarely leaves the emergency room, and when it does, it's to follow the heroic doctors as they respond to some horrible accident. Similarly, the characters are all basic types—the prick administrator, the ruggish rebel, the ruggish rebel's straight-laced ex, the bumbling interns, the one with a big secret, etc. However, I've seen the series' first three episodes, and The Night Shift seems to know exactly what it is, and it's really trying to be the best possible version of that.

The show's primary wrinkle is its military connection, and it does a solid job of integrating the characters' personal experiences and traumas from their time in the Middle East into the present-day medical emergencies. The San Antonio setting and New Mexico location-shooting give the show a reason to occasionally move the action outside, which is nice. There's also some stuff, particularly in the pilot, about the corporatization of hospitals and medicine, particularly in a post-ObamaCare universe, that could be better but still adds a nice "real world" layer.

But The Night Shift's real strength is its cast. The show is a testament to what happens when a bunch of rock-solid professionals get the opportunity to work with some decent material and play off one another. Ken Leung's a real treat, this is a good role for Brendan Fehr, Freddy Rodriguez is committed to doing weird stuff in every scene, and Eoin Macken and Jill Flint are somewhere between fine and good. Overall, there's a sense of camaraderie and comfort among the actors that very easily translates to the characters, and that makes the more rote storylines easier to swallow. 

What about the show is on life support?

I mean, it's a medical drama, your mileage is definitely going to vary based on how much you enjoy (or don't enjoy) the genre. 

In a post-ER and -Grey's Anatomy world, every one of these shows thinks it has to do ridiculous stunt accidents to hold the audience's interest, and that kind of stuff drives much of Episodes 2 and 3, as if The Night Shift were trying to integrate a major network note. The pilot doesn't rely on localized disasters, but feels extremely choppy and poorly edited, as if the producers tried to integrate scenes from multiple shooting periods (I haven't found any info regarding reshoots, but it definitely wouldn't surprise). There are also a few instances where the series tries too hard to remind the audience of T.C.'s time in Afghanistan by showing some very fast and mostly useless flashbacks; those aren't great.

So, should I watch it?

Yeah, assuming you like hospital dramas, I think you should check it out. Look, I know summer is not the relaxing TV watching period that it once was, but The Night Shift doesn't have to hustle much to produce an enjoyable medical procedural. The characters are relatively well-developed within a few episodes, there's a fine mix of episodic medical cases and ongoing character stories, and nothing is particularly ridiculous or overwrought. The Night Shift won't be the best show to debut this summer, but it's the kind of series that'll work if enough people give it a chance without just assuming it's a burn-off. At worst, DVR a few episodes and watch 'em when it gets really hot outside and you just can't imagine leaving the house.

Trailer please! 

No problem. 


The Night Shift premieres Tuesday, May 27 at 10pm on NBC.

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  • nanobyte55 May 29, 2014

    Can we just resurrect Mercy instead?

  • MarlboroMagpi May 28, 2014

    I just watched the first episode. Its not bad and I will continue watching. It needs to have more captivating stories to make us watch the whole season though.

    Jill FlintFreddy Rodriguez and Ken Leung all did well.

  • Stargazerlily17 May 28, 2014

    Yeah, I'm over it! I was looking forward to a new fresh medical drama only to be turned off by the theatrics, unrealistic story line and OF COURSE they HAD to get the gay crap into the story line, so...bogus! Well this ain't no House or Grays Anatomy for sure. If I'm correct in my description, I give this crappy wannabe Grays Anatomy one season, hopefully that is!

  • mary021 May 28, 2014

    the only reason i even know about this is because EION MACKEN! yay i love him hes tthe only reason im watching this show and you know when you want a show to do well becasue you like the cast? thats me right now but i dont think ill like it.and omg the posters are horrific. i dont watch hospital shows (unless two guys and a gil counts which it doesnt) but since summers over all the summer shows (technically winter) shows are finished and i have nothing to watch and usually on Wednesdays id be watching supernatural so anyway. YAY EOIN MACKEN!

  • EmmaDanks0 May 28, 2014

    The characters on this show don't seem to be people so much as they are overdone, hammed up cliche's. TC as the rebel in the pilot was so argumentative and arrogant that I can only hope that the next few episodes tone him down because right now even when he's saving lives it's hard to see any redeeming features. His ex-girlfriend is a walking-talking cliche and the laziest example of writing I have seen in a while. Anyone who has watched a soap opera before can predict her future on the show.
    Broke up with the protagonist because he pushed her away.
    Is now with a great guy who is absolutely perfect but still has feelings for protagonist.
    Protagonist will face turmoil about still loving her but wanting her to be happy without him.
    They will have several emotional outbursts around their walking lawsuit workplace.
    I want to keep watching but there isn't a single original character on the show, and so far the main plots have been done on every other medical drama.
    Okay- So now having watched it through to the end the character I am the most interested in is the bureaucrat. But can someone explain to me why the night shift all have issues with paperwork, refusing to use technology for uploading files, and most of them seem to be suffering from suspended adolescence?

  • TatraFan May 28, 2014

    The Ratings Are In And My Rabid Squirrel Comrade-Critic [Think Rocky( Of The Rocky and Bowinkle Show) With Bi-Polar Disorder And Off His Meds] Is Ready For A Tasty Scrotum-- In fact he's right now pasting the postage on the box and addressing it to the production Team Of Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah-- ( I hope he observes Kosher Rites...) he's very determined to get his pound of flesh by the end of the week. He's got his copy of the Merchant of Venice, his NASA approved Diaper, Snacks, Beverages, and Ipod (I think it is Set To Play FAST AS A SHARK) the only thing missing-- the Mail... Well you might ask what got my Rapid Squirrel Comrade-Critic named Ivan Trotsky all hot bothered about this show? Well, I'll tell you:

    1) The Plot PTSD, SELF DESTRUCTIVE, LOVE TORN SUPER-DOCTOR! Ivan has a palpable hatred for characters that seem are supposed to so good they cannot be replaced in the workforce no matter what they do. ( It might be his long standing feud from the 1980's to present with Roger Ebert-- claims his death is a conspiracy--but don't me started on that one.) Seems he found it highly implausible that any hospital would hire a drunken, PTSD, self-destructive, and fragrant repeat felon (i.e. multiple assault). I mean talk about a walking lawsuit in the E.R.

    2) Civilian GSW's Are Totally Different Than Combat GSW's.... The poor little bastard nearly choked on his acorn when T.C. made that claim. It was then followed with " I'll Show You A CIVILIAN GSW-- GET MY LAR-8 And I'll Put Some .308 175gr SMKs in your lanky Ass... That is the same stuff the US Military snipers' use and you'll see that a bullet does the same damage no-matter the context of the shooting." You see watching TV with him is very dangerous he often gets imbibes single malt 35 year old scotch before watching-- and after .5 to 1 oz of 80proof booze in his blood stream he is a bit rambunctious and well furniture and televisions often pay the ultimate price for his wrath nature... Needless to say he was not impressed with that bit of dialogue and spent a good 10 minutes speaking about bullet expansion, wound channels, and terminal effects of bullets on human flesh and bone. It was scary to seem him go on and on about it.

    3) Love Triangles At Work--- Where is HR when you need them?

    4) The Swamp On The Roof... Ivan loves MASH and he can even choke down an episode or two of Trapper John MD. -- but he will not condone the abomination that is blatant rip off of the MASH SWAMP and Trapper John MD.'s great Camper be desecrated by heathens like Sachs and Judah... Action must be taken it is just that simple really.

    5) Low Grade Chicago Fire Action... When was the last time you saw an ER Doctor Go out to victims? Isn't that why they EMTS?

    6) Combat Support Hospitals or Field Hospitals or MASH (Now Defunct as of 2006) Aka Mobile Surgical Army Hospitals, and Aid Stations have doctors but guess what they are all behind actual lines. Depending on how far and what their capabilities are, will determine what they are called and what operations they perform or don't perform. Aid Stations basically Stabilize a wounded soldier doing only what is needed to allow a solider to travel to a CSH. The CSH will do real surgery and then send the patient off to some other hospital for either further operations or total recovery. But Ivan was very displeased to see our hero running around with a M4 Carbine shooting one guy while holding a bleeding artery with a make shift clamp.

    7) Affordable Care Act Bashing.... Ivan was just lamenting the greatness of the old Soviet Healthcare system. He was displeased with the issues about how ACA was bleeding Hospitals Dry-- after all Hospitals In Texas are having money issues because Gov. Rick Perry neglected to tell his voting public that they could take a subside. Apparently it is okay to be subsidized for oil production, war material production, farm and ranch, natural gas production and the increase in border patrol (I.e. Law And Order) but healthcare is not acceptable. So it was pretty hard for Ivan to swallow the Suits line about ACA bankrupting the Hostpital-- he was waiting for some to chime in and say " Hey What About The Subside That Perry Left Behind!"

    8) Happy Endings After Fighting With Your Boss... Really All Bosses fight it out like it is the ol' west at High Noon ( Where's Gary Cooper When You Need Him?) or Gun Smoke. Ivan wanted to TC taken back to Jail in cuffs! Is that too much to ask for.

    9) TC... Magnum Want's His Token Black Guy Buddy Guy Back! And If This TC starts to fly a helicopter-- he's going to go insane.

    10) Sexual Harassment In The Work Place... Ivan takes this very seriously-- if he cannot no longer force his squirrel assistants to dress in a sexy manner while enduring demeaning comments about their bodies-- than no one can do it... I wouldn't call Ivan evolved just pissed off... So, when he saw the Doctors pimping for procedures he went ballistic!

    Adios from Ivan Trotsky!

  • Tunacarlos May 28, 2014

    It was actually much better than my expectations, will keep watching.

  • kanniballl May 27, 2014

    So... is Jill Flint permanently off Royal Pains?

    I know her character "left" but I assumed it was short term while the actress did a role on a feature film or had a kid. Apparently that wasn't the case.

    What happened there?

  • TrevPlatt May 27, 2014

    I'm surprised you looked so favourably on this, I thought it was an educational aide for film students "Cliché Integration for Beginners." The ONLY saving grace is the fact that Jill Flint is hot and I'd watch her in anything - although Night Shift is going to strenuously test that theory. The cast is great but the writing, dialogue and direction were terrible. If the next few episodes don't knock it out of the park I'll have to pass on it and that's a real shame considering how much I've been missing Ms. Flint.

  • liisterinen May 27, 2014

    i`m only going to watch it once it has been renewed. i`m still mad about monday mornings.

  • CoryBarker1 May 27, 2014


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