So how does one talk about NBC's new medical drama Mercy and make it seem... well, new? I'm not sure you can! The show seems to borrow pretty heavily from other "tough," big-hearted medical shows currently on the air. There's your intense-but-soft-inside lead, a doe-eyed newcomer, a sexy-scruffy doctor, and an imperious leader played by a Respected Actor. Sounds kinda textbook, right?
Actually it almost sounds like a joke--a parody of how formulaic these types of shows have gotten in the modern TV age, ever since St. Elsewhere soaped up the proceedings in 1982 and ER made everything gritty and clinical (but still pretty soapy, at least eventually) a decade later. The whole thing being a joke would actually kind of make sense, given that the series was created by Adam Bernstein, a director and producer of the masterfully absurd 30 Rock. Let's take a look at some of these hilarious similarities (say that 10 times fast):
Mercy follows a young
resident tough-talking nurse named Meredith Grey Jackie Peyton Veronica Flanagan (played by relative newcomer Ellen Pompeo Taylor Schilling) as she navigates the tricky, insane waters of a busy Seattle New York (?) hospital. Jackie Veronica is gruff with the doctors because she's smarter than them, and really hard on the newbies, especially Chloe Payne (ugh, that name!), played by Merritt Wever Michelle Trachtenberg. There is, though, one doctor who, I'm guessing, Veronica has a soft spot for, Patrick Dempsey's James Tupper's McSteamy Dr. Chris Sands. So, you get where I'm going with this, right?
Though the show's similarities to so many other medical dramas doesn't necessarily, I guess, mean you shouldn't check it out. More of a good thing is, well, more of a good thing, right? Except, some of those preview clips... "Where did you learn to do that?" an awed bystander asks as Nurse Veronica administers some street-side medicine-ing. Without missing a beat, the world-weary Veronica says "Iraq." Wow, we're supposed to think. That's crazy. We're also supposed to still want to watch the show even though we know Veronica is a brilliant nurse who is right all the time. I mean, the beloved old Ellen McLaughlin tells us so in the preview clips. "You are a great nurse," she says. Well, there you go. End of show. Where can we even go from there?
The Trachtenberg Factor puts me off as well, but that's just personal taste. I'd be curious to tune in for Respected Actors Delroy Lindo (as tough African-American chief Dr.
Webber Parks) and Kate Burton Mulgrew (as Meredith's Veronica's crazy alcoholic mother Ellis Grey Jeannie Flanagan), but... I hate hospitals.
How about you? Seeing the frustrating similarities? Do you care?
'Mercy' premieres tonight (9/23) at 8/7c on NBC