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05 February 2013

For me, 'Monday Mornings' will be appointment TV



I love to write TV show reviews. It’s just that I usually wait a few days after I’ve seen the first episode of a show to do so. But in the case of “Monday Mornings,” I couldn’t wait — it was that good.

The show, Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on TNT, gets its name from the Monday morning meetings in hospitals that surgeons attend — Morbidity & Mortality meetings, or M&M — to discuss the good, and the very bad, in their surgical performances. 

In the first episode, we meet a doctor, brilliantly played by Blake Robbins (you’ll remember Blake as Dave Brass, the hard-luck correctional officer whose achilles tendon was severed by an inmate in “Oz”), who is on the proverbial hot seat. He’s drilled by the chief of surgery, Dr. Harding Hooten (Alfred Molina, who we’ll profile next week) on a case of a runner who was in pain who died after the doctor missed a form of cancer a simple MRI would have caught.

In an impeccable way, Robbins captured the intense scrutiny these surgeons face when they’re put on stage, in front of their colleagues, and absolutely humiliated to the core about errors of judgment made. In the opening 10 minutes alone, between Molina’s portrayal of arrogance and Robbins’s portrayal of a doc who made serious errors, I was hooked and literally on the edge of my seat.

My heart was beating that fast. 

My heart was breaking for the patient.

My heart was breaking for the doctor.

And if the pilot is any indication, we’re going to get a myriad of emotions — anger, sadness, joy, disgust — from this show.

And for fans of “ER” who have felt a certain void since that show ended in 2009 after an amazing run, we’ve finally got our sequel.

Each of the doctors have extreme personalities that are relatable. 

And yet, it’s the doctor played by Jamie Bamber I seem to identify with most already.

Those of you who are fans of “Law & Order UK” will remember Bamber as D/S Matty Devlin. In this role, where he plays American Dr. Tyler Wilson (his “American” accent is brilliant, by the way), you’ve got a surgeon we rarely got to see on “ER,” except when Dr. John Carter spent his first years in surgery. He is perhaps the complete antithesis of “ER’s” Dr. Peter Benton — he cares deeply for his patients. He worries with his patients’ families — and he shows emotion in ways we rarely get to see in fictional surgeons.

In the debut of the series, he’s tasked with operating on a young boy who comes in with a headache, only to learn he’s got a potentially life-threatening tumor in his brain.

For fear of spoiling the episode for those who haven’t seen it yet, let’s just say Bamber is magnificent in dealing with the quickly done surgery — and he shows an amazingly deep side in dealing with the boy’s mum and in the subsequent M&M.

And the surgery was hardly what one would call a “success.”

There are a few other characters in the show, too, who are just great. One is Dr. Jorge Villanueva (Ving Rhames), who is Peter Benton with about 20 years more experience. And Dr. Tina Ridgeway (Jennifer Finnegan), who is a mixture of Dr. Susan Lewis and Kerry Weaver). 

We also meet a doctor whose English is poor — but whose neuro-surgical skills are impeccable. And a few others whose characters aren’t yet developed.

The bottom line, though, is this is a winner. We’ve waited a long time for a great medical drama after “ER,” and this one appears to be it.

In the coming weeks, I’ll break down more of the doctors/characters. But in the meantime, “Monday Mornings” is worth every second of the 2,400 it runs each week.

And I cannot wait for the next episode next week.

5 of 5.

“Monday Mornings” can be seen on TNT every Monday at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.


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