A scene from the second episode of Miami Medical, starring Jeremy Northam (right) as a trauma-center doc
Redemption is a 13-episode series on a competing network.
TELEVISION The other night, I got an out-of-the-blue e-mail from Jeffrey Lieber. A couple years ago I wrote a story about Lieber, the Evanston native and University of Illinois grad who penned the original pilot that would eventually become the television series mega-hit Lost. In a Hollywood tale with as many twists and turns as a typical episode of Lost, Lieber was fired in 2003 by the network—ABC—and replaced by J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof. The new team added a supernatural twist to Lieber’s stranded-on-a-deserted-island tale, which Lieber had called Nowhere (read excerpts from Lieber’s script for the pilot episode). After a nasty arbitration battle against ABC, Lieber won a "created by" credit and a royalty every time an episode airs.
Now, Lieber’s back. Thus, his e-mail. His latest undertaking, Miami Medical, premieres tonight on CBS (at 9 p.m. on WBBM-Ch. 2). The show is the first foray into the medical genre by the Hollywood hit-maker Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI, The Amazing Race, Top Gun, Pirates of the Caribbean), who, along with Lieber and two others, is one of the show’s executive producers. Created and scripted by Lieber, the show follows a team of high-adrenaline trauma surgeons and nurses, all of them hunks and babes—it’s television, right?—who specialize in treating patients with life-threatening injuries, or the "Rolling Stones of medicine," as Lieber likes to hypes them up. Set in Miami, home to one of only three trauma-only centers in the country, the show stars the British actor Jeremy Northam, Lana Parrilla (Swingtown), and Omar Gooding (yes, Cuba‘s younger brother).
That Lieber’s Miami Medical debuts as Lost heads down the home stretch of its final season is perhaps fitting. "It’s a nice symbiosis," said Lieber, when I spoke with him earlier this week. "Even though it’s totally coincidental."
Lieber said the inspiration for the new show came from his own life—actually his wife Holly’s. Before they were married, Holly came down with a high fever. She went to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with the flu and sent home with medicine. A couple hours later, Holly fell into a coma on her couch and, after being found by her mother, was rushed to the trauma center at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. "In the next hour they saved her life," Lieber told me. He pitched the story to Bruckheimer, who said "That’s a show!" Last May, CBS gave the green light to 13 episodes based on a pilot written by Lieber.
So, how is Miami Medical different from all the other medical shows on TV, I asked Lieber. "Grey’s Anatomy is a soap—it’s about who’s sleeping with who," he said. "House is a great fascinating character piece. The model for our show is Six Feet Under. How do you see bad things happen to people on a moment-to-moment basis and then go out and live your life?"
Does he harbor any pangs of regret that things didn’t work out better with Lost? "I’ve always had a great deal of respect for what it takes to do that show," he said. "But I’m thrilled as hell that I don’t have to figure my way out of their box right now," he added, referring to all the loose ends still dangling with just six episodes of Lost to go. To keep up with Lieber, follow him on Twitter or read his left-leaning political blog on the Daily Kos.
WHAT CRITICS ARE SAYING ABOUT MIAMI MEDICAL’S PREMIERE EPISODE
- The Chicago Sun-Times review by Paige Wiser, 3/31/2010:
"I didn’t even recognize British actor Jeremy Northam, mainly because he has his shirt off so often. He’s the tragedy-tinged chief named Dr. Proctor (it rhymes!) and he speaks like a fortune cookie—at one point, he compares surgery to a BLT."
- The Los Angeles Times review by Mary McNamara, 4/2/2010:
"It’s marvelous to see Northam all modern and un-martyred after his terrific turn as Thomas More in "The Tudors." But there is a strange lack of chemistry among the cast, perhaps because they are continually forced to deliver monologues on how difficult their jobs are and say things such as: "Life, so bloody beautiful.""
- The New York Daily News review by David Hinckley, 4/2/2010:
"The fact that it’s premiering late in the season at a notably low-viewership hour suggests that may be a long shot. Nor is it a good sign that near the end of episode one, someone says, ‘Been some day, huh?’"
- The Variety review by Brian Lowry, 3/26/2010:
"Assessed on its own, this new show about trauma docs—adept at treating patients during ‘the golden hour,’ those first moments after a serious mishap—has more in common with Jerry Bruckheimer’s crime procedurals than with medical fare, from the crackling visual style to the casting. Slickness alone, however, seems like a poor prescription for securing primetime longevity."
- The New York Times story about the show by Brian Stelter, 3/26/2010:
"Jeffrey Lieber, the day-to-day executive producer of Miami Medical, isn’t particularly interested in the medicine. He sees the world of hospitals and very good looking doctors as an entryway into the characters’ stories."
Photographs: Richard Foreman/CBS; Monty Brinton/CBS; (thumbnail) Adam Taylor/Warner Bros.