‘Chicago Med’ debuts formulaic premiere

Nick Gehlfuss plays the chief ER resident on NBC's new "Chicago Med." Elizabeth Sisson / NBC

Award-winning producer Dick Wolf strikes again with the third installment of his interconnected Chicago-based shows. 

Like its counterparts, “Chicago Med,” which premiered Nov. 17, doesn’t boast a well-known or experienced cast. This, coupled with fairly flat dialogue, doesn’t work in its favor. The season premiere opens with a terrible train wreck that leaves many dead and many more injured. Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell), the new trauma surgery fellow at Chicago Med, happens to be on this train and does all he can do to help the patients and get them to the hospital. As he arrives at the hospital, the rest of the main cast is introduced, most of whom fall into predictable tropes. Dr. Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss), the senior resident in the ER, is the typical overconfident and talented doctor who is immediately put off by Rhodes’ similar personality. Rhodes has also garnered the attention of many of the female doctors in the ER, including Dr. Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto), the pregnant ER pediatrician who is revealed to be single.

In this premiere, viewers get a glimpse of many different injuries and how each member of the ER team handles them. Halstead and Rhodes are confident in their abilities, but they disagree on how to handle some cases. Sarah Reese (Rachel DiPillo), a fourth-year medical student, seems completely out of place in the ER. For instance, she is forced to break a little girl’s ribs while performing CPR — which eventually saves her life — and this bothers her for the rest of the episode. Her growth could prove to be an interesting component of the series.

The premise of the show is that each week patients will come in with new problems and the core group of doctors will have to work together to treat them even as they deal with drama among themselves. The main problem with “Chicago Med” is that it’s essentially like any other hospital show, namely the overdone “Grey’s Anatomy” (2005 – present). “Chicago Med” doesn’t provide any evidence that it will bring any innovative twists to the hospital show genre, at least in its premiere. An additional problem with the show, specifically for and with the cast, is that much of the dialogue and acting don’t quite flow as seamlessly as they should. The uninspired dialogue comes off as flat, especially during emotional scenes like one in which a woman needs to take her fiancé off of life support. The cast hasn’t quite got their bearings or figured out their internal chemistry, something that will likely come with time.

The opportunity for creativity presents itself in the crossover episodes with the other two parts of the Chicago franchise. Knowledge of the other two television series isn’t necessary to understand the plot of “Chicago Med,” but for fans of the franchise the crossover episodes might be a reason to give this newest Wolf-created series a try.

Though the show has some issues it needs to work out to be able to forge its own unique path, there are some positive elements that make the premiere entertaining. The premiere was fast-paced, switching between different characters while remaining comprehensible, making sure viewers got a well-rounded view of the core group. The premiere also introduced a plethora of injuries and ailments. From the train wreck, a little girl suffered a broken leg, an older man suffered a fatal head injury and a pregnant surrogate overcame a head injury after going through surgery.

“Chicago Med” suffers from the growing pains of a new show that unfortunately aren’t remedied by dialogue or acting. If the writers can somehow find a way to put a new twist on the medical drama genre, then there is hope that the show will improve vastly.

“Chicago Med” airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.


Summary

"Chicago Med" draws too much upon the formulaic medical drama genre and is supported by weak acting and flat dialogue.

2.5 stars
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