Hospitals are a popular setting for formulaic dramas. They provide a fast-paced environment and a mix of clashing characters, not to mention storylines that can literally be wheeled in on a trolley. When done right they’re as popular with fans as they are with producers, and when they’re not they still generally garner a good fan base (The Royal anyone?). Sony are no doubt banking on this, as medical series Hawthorne will be the first new show to premiere when their catchy named channel Sony Entertainment Television launches this Thursday.
OK, so Hawthorne’s first series didn’t get the best reviews when it debuted in America. Jada Pinkett Smith who is both the lead role and executive producer of the series, admits: “My mother’s a nurse, and in the first year she wrote me a 5 page email telling me what we can do better. I actually got new medical advisers for the next seasons, so we’d get all the details right.” International reviews have improved since then, not that that’s much help to new UK viewers.
Unless you’re in the medical profession you’re unlikely to spend your first visit to Hawthorne’s Richmond Trinity Hospital muttering about the technical mistakes, however. You will notice the supporting characters’ awkward acting and the soap-like tone of the show though.
While the cheesy ambiance does feel outdated, the storylines--ranging from recession to road accidents--manage to retain some modernity. "We pulled a lot of real life stories that we thought really represented what was going on in the world", Pinkett Smith explained. "We went particularly hard for it in season two."
Yes, it's fair to say Hawthorne's first season isn't perfect and that the second is bound to be better. But, even though the show's no Grey's Anatomy or ER it does manage to stand out in a saturated genre. It's a particularly mushy drama in which hospital staff are portrayed more sensitively than on most medical series, with nurses actually crying when patients die on their watch. It's not for everyone, but Sony Entertainment Television doesn't mind that: at the launch they admitted they're aiming for the “female market”, and that's probably what they'll get with this emotional medical romp.