Category Archives: Pilot Review

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.

Pilot Review: Madam Secretary

Tea' Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord in new Madam Secretary.  Source: Provided
Tea’ Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord in new Madam Secretary. Source: Provided

I for one, love being able to say the words “starring Tea’ Leoni” when writing a review for a new show.  It’s been far far too long since Leoni last graced our screens, especially with me having recently come off a massive ‘The Naked Truth‘ binge watch last month (Leoni starred in the sitcom The Naked Truth).

That said, Leoni’s return to prime time TV is in a very different project that what some may be used to seeing her star in with Madam Secretary (premiering Thursday Oct 2nd on Channel 10).

Here’s the basic run-down of Madam Secretary… “Madam Secretary follows Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst now working as a history professor who, after the Secretary of Defense’s plane goes down over the Atlantic Ocean, is tasked by the President of the United States to take his place. Two months later, while still trying to learn the job she’s accepted, McCord must deal with an international incident that sees two American teenagers taken into custody by the Syrian government, and are on the verge of possible execution by their captors.”

I’m just going to put it out there…..my experience with political themed shows goes as far as Veep so I entered Madam Secretary with some trepidation of being incredibly bored and unable to really follow what’s going on, but with Madam Secretary, instead of being bombarded with political jargon (it’s in there still), we’re given an insight into the rigors of Elizabeth McCord’s sudden and not-so-tender foray into the choppy waters of of the presidents cabinet.

Between being leashed by the president, dealing with an over eager stylist, remembering the names of all 7 wives of the King of Swaziland and maintaining a normal home and family life, Elizabeth has a lot on her political plate.

Having already mentioned Leoni above, what I can add is that while Madam Secretary is leaps and bounds away from the screwball comedienne we were first introduced to in the late 90’s, Leoni’s perfect comedic timing and natural energy allows her to bring some light to otherwise dull scenes.  Her on-screen husband played by Tim Daly is just as good as Henry McCord.  As a religion and ethics professor, Henry is sort of the show’s moral center and from what I’ve seen, there to fill the gender flip role we’re normally used to see being played by a female actress.  As per the norm with Daly, his on-screen chemistry with his leading ladies is second to none. From Laura Leighton in EYES to Kate Walsh in Private Practice and now Tea’ Leoni in Madam Secretary, Daly offers a flawless love-ability and strong companionship that plays well, especially with Leoni’s Elizabeth McCord.

The rest of the cast is filled with familiar faced actors including Bebe Neuwirth (Frasier) and Zeljko Ivanek (True Blood) who all help move the story along without too much fuss.

The pilot episode of Madam Secretary sets up what looks set to be a rather intriguing season-long arc (I won’t reveal what) with the mystery playing along-side weekly crisis that pop up for McCord to deal with.  If done right and Leoni’s given enough room to do what she does best, Madam Secretary could have the chops to be the next West Wing meets The Good Wife.

Madam Secretary premiere’s Thursday October 2nd, 9pm on Channel 10

7 star