Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Pedigree: The show was created by Jennie Snyder (Gilmore Girls, 90210), who wrote the pilot. Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Pushing Daisies) joins her as an executive producer. The pilot was directed by Bharat Nalluri (Torchwood: Miracle Day, MI-5).
The Cast & How You Know Them: Emily Owens, M.D. stars Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife, Off the Map), Justin Hartley (Smallville), Michael Rady (Melrose Place, The Mentalist), Necar Zadegan (24, The Event), Kelly McCreary (White Collar), and Aja Naomi King (Blue Bloods, Person of Interest).
The Premise: As young surgeon Emily Owens starts her internship in a new city, she hopes to leave her awkward past behind her, but soon discovers that the hospital is just like high school – complete with her actual high school nemesis and her medical school crush.
What Works: I really like the central idea that people suddenly find themselves in “adulthood” without actually feeling much different than they did in teenagers, so the “the hospital is just like high school” conceit worked for me from that angle. (Though I think it would be more true and more interesting to point out that it’s not that this particular hospital is like high school, but rather that the social behaviors we like to think are “high school” are just to some extent human nature.) The cast is strong, and there was enough intrigue and interesting personal dynamics to make me want to learn more about the characters. The medical cases of the week were pleasantly normal – it’s nice to see a medical show that doesn’t use wildly unusual medical problems right off the bat – and though they certainly had some parallelism with things going on in the doctors’ lives, the show didn’t hit us over the head with it.
What Doesn’t: Though I sort of liked part of the high school parallelism premise, as stated above, I thought it went way too far in using it as an excuse for the characters to act immaturely. Some of the situations that were used to show how socially inept Emily is – which is a fine thing for the pilot to be trying to do, in concept – were completely ridiculous things that would never actually happen, so they fell flat. I’ll only make a token objection to how unrealistic the hospital setting was, because hospital settings are always unrealistic, but still. In general, the show was interesting in theory but felt pretty watered down in execution. And this is another in a long line of shows that asks us to accept as part of the premise that a gorgeous actress looks like a “dork,” whatever that means, exactly.
Our Favorite Line: “The thing about being an adult that no one tells you growing up is that you don’t feel like an adult.”
Other Items of Note: Star Mamie Gummer is Meryl Streep’s daughter, if you were wondering why she seemed a bit familiar.
You Might Like This if you like Grey’s Anatomy, because it feels very much like a Grey’s Jr. – young doctors with messy personal and family lives trying to hold everything together. The network is also clearly hoping to pull in the Hart of Dixie audience.
If You’re Interested: Emily Owens, M.D. premieres tonight (Tuesday) at 9/8c on the CW and CTV two.
(Photo courtesy of the CW.)