Interactivity is all the rage in TV today but the drinking game viewers can play with NBC’s “The Night Shift” (10 tonight, WPXI) is probably not what NBC programmers intend. If you take a swig every time one of these cliches kicks in, you’ll be blitzed in no time:
▪ Drink when self-destructive Afghan war vet Dr. T.C. Callahan (Eoin Macken, “Merlin”) butts heads with a hospital superior (literally or figuratively).
▪ Drink when ambitious night shift boss Dr. Jordan Alexander (Jill Flint) tries to get T.C. to fall in line and do the paperwork she has asked him to do multiple times.
▪ Drink when hospital bean-counter Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez, “Six Feet Under”) punches or gets punched.
▪ Drink when the show reveals two characters who obviously had a past romantic relationship did indeed have a past romantic relationship.
▪ Drink when a patient in a “Don’t Mess with Texas” T-shirt wanders in from the waiting room and threatens an African-American nurse.
▪ Drink when T.C. takes his shirt off to show off his body.
▪ Drink when “Night Shift” reveals T.C. has a gambling problem.
▪ Drink when the show reveals a nonstereotypically gay character is gay but the guy refuses to come out, 1990s TV drama-style.
▪ Drink when a newbie doc gets pranked and freaks out.
Set in a San Antonio, Texas, hospital, “Night Shift” easily sets up its familiar premise – doctors work overnights – and introduces its characters, who also include doctors Topher Zia (Ken Leung, “Lost”) and Drew Alister (Brendan Fehr, “Roswell”).
There are the usual medical disasters – a drunk driving accident, a kid whose skull and spine are nearly severed – and episode two includes a latter-season, “ER”-style catastrophe.
Networks may brag about year-round programming, and sometimes quality shows do air in the summer, but sometimes the year’s warmest months remain a dumping ground for warmed-over series. “Night Shift” has all the earmarks of a show being dumped.
Viewers who feel nostalgic for every medical show cliche may enjoy “Night Shift;” the characters are all likable – even the antagonistic hospital administrator gets a sympathetic backstory – and the cast is ridiculously attractive. But that probably won’t be enough for viewers seeking something more original (e.g. anyone who regularly watches smarter cable dramas); these discerning viewers may be less likely to forgive “Night Shift” for its indulgence of medical drama cliches.
A version of this review first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.