HOLLYWOOD—There have been great medical dramas on TV over the years. I mean “ER,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and recently the ABC hit “The Good Doctor.” It is rare to have two shows within the same TV season actually have two different perspectives of medicine. The new FOX series “The Resident” takes a polarizing look at the medical arena looking at both the heart and the darkness of those who slice and cut us open. Medicine can be riveting, and it can also be scary as hell, hence the introduction to one of our main characters Devon Parash (Manish Dayal), who is on pins and needles the first day of his job to complete his residency.
While many might expect Dayal to be the star of the series, he is not. It is actually Matt Czuchry, alum of “The Good Wife,” who is captivating on the small screen as Dr. Conrad Hawkins. This guy is blunt, brass, arrogant, but full of empathy to teach people the importance of connecting to patients and utilizing an unconventional approach to medicine. Intertwined in all this madness is Nurse Nicolette Nevin (Emily VanCamp), who has a fractured relationship with Conrad. What Conrad did to cause the relationship to be on the rocks? That has not yet been revealed, but in due time we will indeed learn people.
The irony of this show is it’s a bit more graphic in nature than I expected, that opening scene where the ‘Doctor of Death,’ as he is known, and the Chief of Surgery, Dr. Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood) having a mishap in the ER that leads to the death of patient is disturbing to watch. Greenwood is a villainous character, but it’s not done with the extent of being malicious. He’s grappling with the realization that he is getting old, he suffers from tremors and his job may be at risk. That is the interesting facet about this character, he is not as one dimensional as the audience would expect, however, he can be cold as ice. Seeing him threaten Dr. Mina Okafor (Shaunette Renee Wilson), who has mastered a new machine aimed to help with completing surgeries with efficiency, shows how vicious the medical arena can be to climb to the top or to stay on top.
While you feel for Dr. Okafor, we see glimpses of what we’ve been told time and time again in the medical arena: doctors are taught to cut off emotional attachments to patients. Why? If you become too attached, it can lead to complications. I mean Okafor with brevity delivers gut-wrenching news to families and doesn’t hesitate with her words one bit. At the polar opposite, we see Devon refuse to give up on a patient who OD, and as a result he realizes the patient is alive, but brain dead. Conrad noted for his protégé to never question his authority. Devon did and as a result he’s in a catch-22 where he’ll have to deliver some heartbreaking news to the family of his patient. We also have a duplicitous character in Dr. Lane Hunter (Melina Kanakaredes), who seems aligned with Dr. Bell, yet sympathizes with Dr. Hawkins, but is more into the world of making money than actually helping patients.
What fascinates a ton about this new series, even though we’re only two episodes in, is that we’re looking at the business of medicine. That is of major relevance in the real world. The world of medicine is more complicated than people realize. Yes, doctors are expected to save lives, but what so many people fail to realize is that the medical industry is a BUSINESS; it’s all about making money. We see Dr. Bell wheeling and making deals, and even bragging about the millions of dollars he has made for the hospital over the years.
There are some interesting cases we see the first few episodes, a patient suffering from a debilitating disease, who has built a strong connection to Conrad and several other staff members of the hospital. There is that patient who has a bad case of Gangrene where we see a toe actually fall off after Devon touches it. However, the patient can care less about his situation. He is more concerned about eating fast food. It’s like he has resigned to his death sentence.
“The Resident” is a series looking to tackle medicine in a new way, but in all honestly there is not that much new when it comes to the characters themselves; we’ve seen this before on a different series, but never intertwined with the business aspect at the core. I will admit I was driven to watch the series because of the teasers of the character of Conrad and his unorthodox medical practices, however, I sense that is going to slowly dissipate as we see more layers of this character peeled as the episodes continue.
After two episodes, “The Resident” has enough going for it to draw in viewers and keep them tuned in for a few episodes. Rather it becomes a hit; all depends on what direction the show chooses to go with its characters and storylines. “The Resident” airs Monday at 9 p.m. on FOX.