By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®
You’ve seen Monday Mornings, premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on TNT, before – ER, Grey’s Anatomy pick a medical drama, any medical drama. Except Monday Mornings is much more depressing and so much more affected. The new series, from executive producers David E. Kelley and Sanjay Gupta, who wrote the book the series is based on, is exhaustingly melodramatic. Ex-haus-ting. The action moves in excruciating slow motion. There are close ups that make no sense whatsoever. The actors contort their faces into exaggerated expressions as if playing to the last row of the theater.There are bizarre distractions that take you out of the action. (Ving Rhames spends the first two episodes with glasses on his head. They could hang out with the hat Maria Bellow wore on Prime Suspect last year.)
The title of the series refers to the morbidity and mortality conference the doctors have every week. Except on Monday Mornings, it’s not a place for the doctors to share their experiences and learn from their mistakes. The conferences exist so the chief of surgery, Dr. Harding Hooten (Alfred Molina), can berate and humiliate his staff. Dr. Hooten is so nasty to his colleagues that it’s hard to believe it when he’s nice to his patients. (Also watch how much time the show spends on Hooten pouring a glass of water. Again –ex-haus-ting.)
The rest of the doctors are all types we’ve seen before – they’re pretty, they’re stressed, their personal lives are a mess and they care deeply about their patients. You could drop them into another medical drama and they could just keep going (if that could happen I’d send Jamie Bamber’s Dr. Tyler Wilson to Grey’s. He’s the only doctor I’m interested in seeing again.)
I must call attention to Dr. Sung Park (Keong Sim, who will look familiar because he played Mike’s dad on Glee). Dr. Park is a brilliant neurosurgeon who speaks in broken English. When a patient asks him for advice, he says “Not do. Die.” He mixes up clichés and gets words wrong. It’s played for laughs but it’s offensively stereotypical.
Kelley is known for pushing TV boundaries – this is the man that gave us the dancing baby and Denny Crane. But Monday Mornings is trite and no amount of medical intervention can bring it back to life. After you’ve watched Monday Mornings, let me know what you think.