Quantcast
subscriber help

since 1997 | by maryann johanson

TNT’s ‘Heartland’ not quite the fix for a ‘House’ jones

If you find yourself suffering from House withdrawal over the summer, you might want to check out Heartland, TNT’s new series premiering Monday, June 18 at 10pm Eastern. I’m sure that’s what TNT is hoping for, at least, to catch a little bit of that “I need a medical drama, stat!” audience. And at first glance — I had a chance to preview the pilot and the first regular episode — there certainly seems to be enough soap-opera angst to go around the antiseptic corridors of St. Jude’s Transplant Center in Pittsburgh for quite a while.
Of course, if you’re jonesing for a Hugh Laurie fix, you’re out of luck here. Nobody doesn’t like Treat Williams (Hollywood Ending), but his Dr. Nathaniel Grant, transplant surgeon, is a bit tiresome. Oh, he’s aggressive and takes risks, dammit!, for his patients when necessary, much to the chagrin of the other, less made-for-TV-melodrama transplant specialists he butts heads with at the hospital. (But is he dumb enough — or wise enough — to take a chance on the guy who’s already blasted both his original liver and a transplanted one with booze? Will Dr. Grant give this man yet another organ? Stay tuned!) And he regularly blows off his girlfriend, Nurse Jessica Kivala (Firefly fan alert: she’s played by the babelicious Morena Baccarin, aka Inara, registered companion), who just wants to hang out and watch a DVD and stuff at night — you know, like normal people do — but he’s just too damn dedicated to his patients to ever leave the hospital, basically. Sanctimonious prig much, Dr. Grant? Oh yes, but not in that fun way of Dr. House’s.

Grant is hardly even mean to his ex-wife, Kate Armstrong, whom he sees every damn day: she’s the organ-donor coordinator at the hospital. Poor Kari Matchett (you’ve seen her on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, if you’re one of the four people watching that) — she’s stuck with a character whom, I suspect, she’s going to get tired of real quick, if the audience doesn’t first: she has to do a lot of soothing of grief-stricken relatives while simultaneously trying to get them to sign the forms that will allow the organs of their dead beloved to be harvested. Ironic, isn’t it, that much of the drama of this show is going to come from the fact that most people don’t have organ-donor cards. If only people were more socially responsible, there would be less cultural space for TV series like this one.

Oh, now I’m being mean and unfair. Heartland — from David Hollander, who created the series The Guardian for CBS — will make for a perfectly pleasant diverting hour of television once a week. Not for me, but for someone. Probably.

(Technorati tags: , , , )


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
posted in:
tv buzz
explore:
  • “(you’ve seen her on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, if you’re one of the four people watching that)”

    Ouch, Maryann. As one of the four, ouch. Sad, but all-too-true.

  • Count me as another one of the four.

    I’ve been a Kari Matchett fan since I first saw her on Earth: Final Conflict way back when… and Morena Baccarin is always worth watching. (She’ll be on the next-to-last episode of Stargate: SG-1 tomorrow night.)

    But the vibe I get from Heartland is a solid “There is nothing new here” vibe.

  • MaryAnn

    It is sad-but-true about *Studio 60.* I have not been a devoted viewer, but the few episodes that I have seen assure me that that show is many steps above the usual TV tripe. Hell, it even makes me like Matthew Perry*, which I would never have guessed was possible. Put Aaron Sorkin on the short list (along with Joss Whedon and, um, a couple others, I’m sure) of folks who know how to make a smart show. Too smart, perhaps.

    *You know, one of the things that fucking pisses me off about *Studio 60* — in a good way, kinda — is that it makes me realize that someone like Matthew Perry is probably waaaaay smarter and has waaaaay more on the ball that everything else he’s ever done has led me to believe. Which pisses me off because it means that Hollywood forces smart people to act dumb in order to make a living. Which is not exactly a revelation, I guess, but to be faced with so obvious an example is galling.

  • MaryAnn, well said.

    Studio 60 and Firefly and other similar shows that have died premature deaths did so, I think, because they’re too far over on the right end of the bell graph of RILtETS (Required Intelligence Level to Enjoy This Show). They have great writing and dialogue and good actors, but they require that the viewer actually put a bit of thought into watching the show. Run-of-the-mill, average shows like King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond last for years despite run-of-the-mill, cliched, unoriginal writing, but put something out there that’s actually clever, and too few people watch to keep the ratings up.

    Short version: Let’s get Studio 60 and Firefly on HBO, and they’ll last for YEARS.

    I don’t think Heartland will last too long, just because it seems too unoriginal… but I’ve been wrong before.

  • OMGImAComicFanboyLOL

    I’ve watched Studio 60 for the whole run because I liked West Wing and Sports Night. And it maintains hight quality in every aspect except the writing. Sorkin’s awful preaching and raging misogeny have soured me on the show. I’m glad FNL was renewed and Studio 60 wasn’t.

  • S60 is a good show, but it’s had problems, and when compared with The West Wing and Sports Night, you see it could have been much better.

    “You know, one of the things that fucking pisses me off about *Studio 60* — in a good way, kinda — is that it makes me realize that someone like Matthew Perry is probably waaaaay smarter and has waaaaay more on the ball that everything else he’s ever done has led me to believe.”

    Yeah, I was surprised what a good actor Perry was, too. He was briefly on West Wing, but he never got to do much, and he replaced the excellent (on TWW, anyway) Emily Procter, so that spoiled me on him.

    “Which pisses me off because it means that Hollywood forces smart people to act dumb in order to make a living. Which is not exactly a revelation, I guess, but to be faced with so obvious an example is galling.”

    Ben Stiller? I’ve never seen his short-lived show, but if it was half as smart as people say…

    “Put Aaron Sorkin on the short list (along with Joss Whedon and, um, a couple others, I’m sure) of folks who know how to make a smart show.”

    Greg Weisman, if you like animation.

    “And it maintains hight quality in every aspect except the writing. Sorkin’s awful preaching and raging misogeny [sic] have soured me on the show.”

    I’ll grant you the preachiness, but misogyny? No, I don’t see it. And the show wouldn’t be the same without Sorkin’s writing. Sorkin’s strength is in snappy dialogue. However, when you look at long-term continuity, a lot of his stuff either doesn’t make sense or seems silly, or dangling plotlines get dropped for no clear reason. He also tends to repeat himself between shows. He could be helped by a producer who can guide the big picture and keep the continuity going from episode to episode.

  • MaryAnn

    Ben Stiller? I’ve never seen his short-lived show, but if it was half as smart as people say…

    Yup, Stiller is a great example of a smart guy acting dumb. His TV show was *brilliant,* and I can’t imagine he is in any way creatively satisfied by the junk he is making these days.

  • MaryAnn

    Sorkin’s … raging misogeny

    Really? You see misogyny? Where?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This