Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pilot Review: Code Black

Code Black (CBS)
Premiered September 30 at 10pm

Typically, procedurals are about three things above all: cops, lawyers, and doctors. I think my interest in such shows probably ranks in this order from greatest to least, and therefore I didn’t expect this show to wow me. What I found, instead, was that it’s pretty much the same as any other medical series, trying to identify itself as unique because of the severity of its caseload and the rate with which people are admitted. Its opening gimmick was to introduce “Mommy” as the less scary version of “Daddy,” both of whom are intent on scaring their residents straight. There are three recognizable faces who happen to be playing those who are not new to the hospital, and one other who I didn’t manage to identify as someone I knew. Marcia Gay Harden, who I often don’t love but actually found to be strongest in her unrewarded role on the second season of “Damages,” is the demanding but extraordinarily competent Dr. Rorish. Luis Guzman, who I’m enjoying watching in Spanish on “Narcos,” is Jose, the head nurse who tells the doctors that them having MDs doesn’t make them smarter than him, and Raza Jaffrey, who went from useless boyfriend on “Smash” to ineffective counterterrorist on “Homeland,” is Dr. Hudson, who frequently clashes with Dr. Rorish on just about everything. The other familiar face I didn’t peg is Bonnie Somerville, who was on “Friends” over a decade ago and has tried a few TV shows since, as Christa. There’s nothing about this show that makes it stand out in my mind. If I liked the genre I might be more enthusiastic, but there’s still no particular hook that I think is compelling.

How will it work as a series? Someone got fired and then presumably unfired in the first episode, and I can imagine the stakes will be just as high on a weekly basis, but the doctors will coach each other through their weaknesses and come out ahead. There will be drama and excitement, naturally, but I don’t see it being anything earth-shattering or too memorable.
How long will it last? The ratings were fine but unspectacular, and for the unforgiving CBS, that’s not good news. This likely won’t be CBS’ big new series of the fall (hello, “Limitless”), so I wouldn’t expect this one to get past a first season, though the network may endorse it past the initial thirteen episodes.

Pilot grade: C

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