Tonight, TNT is launching a new medical drama from prolific television producer David E. Kelley based on the novel Monday Mornings by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The title of the series does not refer to the show's timeslot; but rather, the weekly meeting of doctors and staff at a hospital who talk about what went right (or wrong) with their procedures. It is also where these doctors are held accountable for their mistakes.
These concepts may be new to television, and they are definitely new to this writer, and the quality of talent involved in the show, including Alfred Molina, Ving Rhames, and Jamie Bamber keeps the material at a good level. Here's the official description for it courtesy of TNT:
Doctors face life-and-death decisions each and every day as they fight against often-impossible odds to save their patients. And when things don't go as they should, it's up to their medical colleagues to determine what went wrong and learn from those costly mistakes. This February, TNT is going to take viewers into the fast-paced, split-decision world of hospital doctors in Monday Mornings, a powerful new drama series from award-winning producer David E. Kelley (Boston Legal, The Practice) and practicing neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Based on Gupta's acclaimed novel, Monday Mornings stars Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, TNT's The Company), Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica), Jennifer Finnigan (Better with You), Bill Irwin (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Keong Sim (Glee), Sarayu Rao (Lions for Lambs) and Emily Swallow (TNT's Southland).
We attended the set of Monday Mornings late last year, and spoke with some members of the cast and crew, including frequent Kelley collaborator Bill D'Elia, who talked a bit about what sets Monday Mornings apart.
"I've worked on a lot of medical shows, and in fact, was Executive Producer on Chicago Hope, which is another medical show that David [E. Kelley] created," he explained. "It's quite different in one big respect, and that is the Morbidity and Mortality conferences that every hospital actually has, and has even been referred to in other medical shows, and maybe even depicted once or twice, but it's a central part of this show; those conferences where all the surgeons - and this is a hospital that has some of the best surgeons in the country - all of the surgeons get together and analyze what happened on particular cases. Harding Hooten, the Chief of Staff, as played by Alfred Molina, he conducts these conferences. There's a lot of suspense involved in terms of what goes on," he said.
"I believe you actually watch this show in a different manner than you watch most medical shows, and I can describe it this way, having been involved in some of those other medical shows: The basis for most medical shows is 'here comes somebody, here comes a couple of somebodies, and they're not doing so well. They're sick; they're ill, here's the genius doctor, the flawed doctor, the patient lives, the patient dies, they solve it, they don't solve it, that's the story.' That's what a medical show is. The drama hinges on that doctor. Who is that character? Is he flawed? Is he genius? Is he brilliant? And who are these patients? What is the case of the week? What we're doing, of course involves that, but you will watch this show in a different fashion, I believe, than most medical shows," he promised.
One major difference with Monday Mornings is that we will see very little of the doctors' hope lives, with some characters like Ving Rhames' Villanueva practically living on site.
Monday Mornings is worth a look, and hopefully it won't get lost in the medical drama shuffle. It premieres at 10PM (ET) tonight on TNT following Dallas.