I admit that I only caught the last forty minutes of the new NBC drama “Medical Investigation“, but that doesn’t change the fact that this program shows every sign of being cane-bait.
First off, they’ve hired Neal McDonough, the actor who played the bad-boy DA from Jon Avnet’s failed series “Boomtown” to be one of the investigative lawyers, I mean investigative doctors (heck, on television everyone’s jobs are interchangeable). The very first thing that I noticed about this show was McDonough’s workmanlike delivery of tired, predictable lines. The conversation with between his doctor character and the parents of this episode’s potentially-doomed-patients was awful. They didn’t even try to disguise the bad acting with weird camera moves, strange edits or swoopy special effect cutaways. It almost seemed like they didn’t have a location permit and they were hurrying through the scene before they were busted…and this was STAGE work.
Boy do I miss Quincy M.E.
We didn’t know how good we had it back when Quincy was the only Medical Examiner on television. Now every network is trying to get in on the act. I swear that I saw Grover doing an autopsy of Mr. Snuffleupagus as I flipped through our PBS station last week.
Big news is that Vegas is right out as the hotspot for television drama. They’ve maxed-out that town as a production hub and producers went looking for the Next Big Glam Location. You can probably tell where they landed by watching promos for this season’s new shows….of course it’s Hawaii (I think I can hear Topekans crying out: “Drat, we got passed over AGAIN!”).
In the ever-competitive world of televisual one-upsmanship, the networks are on the prowl to score the next hot concept, genre and location. If they hit all three they’re made. If they hit two they’re sitting pretty. If they hit one then they’re going to get done over by the Fox Network in a dark alley.
So the Geniuses at NBC have arrived at a “good” concept. They’ve put the characters from this show into a flying command center. That way they can have this mystery-solving team fly ANYWHERE that’s currently hip, thereby maintaining a tenuous hold on two of the three keys to modern programming excellence.
Now, as I look at this show’s characters I realize that they’re more like those meddlesome kids from Scooby Doo than the folks from CSI. Flying around the country solving mysteries and eating pizza and playing poker. Tell me with a straight face that this isn’t a live-action Scooby Doo show made over for the corpse-happy crowd.
For instance, McDonough, as an uber-blonde dude, plays the character of Fred, no question about it. All he needs is a blue neckerchief. The scruffy young kid-doctor-investigator (forgive me for not knowing any actor or character names) just has to be Shaggy. There are two girls, this time the redhead is probably Velma because she’s the smartest, the brunette has to be Daphne because she dresses all girly.
Now, that leaves the black detective-doctor guy as Scooby because nobody listens to him as far as I can tell. He should hope that his character becomes the breakout favorite like Scooby was for the cartoon. Just in case, I think that he should say “Rut-ro” a couple of times an episode just to seal the deal.
The mystery that these guys had to solve was incredibly contrived and I remember standing up staring at the television with my mouth open in amazement. I expect for British mystery shows to have a last-minute, out-of-left-field solution and for Scottish mystery shows to have a baffling, inscrutable solution that makes you wonder if you’d suffered a mini-stroke that left you incapable of deductive reasoning…but this is the first time that I’ve encountered an American television mystery that left me scratching my head.
So, people are dying because they are wearing blue jeans that soaked up deadly juice from a leaking tank of pesticide that just happened to be riding in the same truck as the jeans? What a compelling, thrilling concept.
Damn but it must be hard to be a writer in Hollywood.