Pilot Review: Code Black

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Marcia Gay Harden leads new medical drama Code Black (c) CBS 2015

Medical dramas are a staple on television and have been for years.  From M.A.S.H to Chicago Hope, ER to Greys Anatomy and some other ones in between.  They’re like your cop/crime procedurals that infiltrate our TV listings but sometimes there’s a bit more blood and a bit more drama but in the end, there’s nothing really new or exciting about them.  Code Black (starting August 25th, 9.10pm on Channel 7) attempts to throw out everything we know about medical dramas and smears it with added blood for good effect.

Code Black follows the hectic work lives of doctors and interns at Angels Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles where on numerous occasions the patients outnumber the staff and resources available – hence the title Code Black.  Even in the opening scene we’re informed “while the average ER goes into code black five times per year, Angels Memorial hits that level 300 times per year.

For those familiar with the array of medical dramas that have been televised, the opening scenes of Code Black may feel a little familiar with Senior ER nurse Jesse (Luis Guzman)  going through the motions of introducing four new interns (including Bonnie Somerville as Christa and Benjamin Hollingsworth as cocky Mario) to life at Angels Memorial – what to do, what not to do and how not to kill patients before Dr. Leanne Rorish (Marcia Gay Harden) whips through the ER like a medical genius hurricane informing the crew that a “Code Black” is imminent.

While your usual shows like Greys are full of pristine hospital wards where everything is white and sterile and most staff can maintain their ‘inside voices’ while spewing out hospital speak, Code Black is full of shouting, yelling people moving very fast… and  blood stained floors saturated by unflattering hospital UV lighting.  It’s a major contrast to what we know but also feels very ‘slap-in-the-face-we’re-different-ok?’

As the story goes, Code Black is a hectic show with lots going on.  Leanne is dealing with a traumatic past, Christa’s personal demons involving a close to home death cloud her judgement and Mario’s over inflated ego mix right into the crazy world of week to week cases – and there’s plenty of those too.  To pull off the Code Black feel, the pilot alone features seven cases among a myriad of background patients and a waiting room literally overflowing with more medical professional seeking members of the public suffering from ailments ranging from common colds to broken limbs.

A major play that Code Black has going for it is that while there is sooooooooooo much going on, unlike our beloved Greys Anatomy residents, there is no time for Code Black staff to bang each other in medical supply rooms while wondering “does he really like me?  Like really like me?”   And while sex between docs is on the down low, there is still a few hints of flirting among each other, but thankfully it doesn’t register on the McDreamy scale that Greys forcibly pushed onto us.

Code Black begins 9.10pm, Thursday August 25th on Channel 7.

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