A medical drama on cable is a little bit different than a medical drama on a broadcast network. At least in terms of who lives and who dies.
To be deliberately vague so as not to spoil the debut of “Monday Mornings” (Monday, 7 and 10:05 p.m., TNT), in one of the storylines a character dies. A character who probably would have lived if this show has been on ABC or CBS.
“Probably true, yeah,” said creator/executive producer David E. Kelley. “The best part about TNT so far is once you sign on to do a show, they say, ‘Go make your show.’ And you’re not getting a lot of those network notes. That’s actually been quite joyous. And it’s not that I felt oppressed by network notes in the past, because I probably was afforded freedom than most to tell the stories we wanted to tell.”
“Monday Mornings” is based on a novel by CNN’s Sanjay Gupta and written and produced by Kelley. He’s best known for legal shows - “”The Practice,” “Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal” - but Kelley has gone down the medical show road before with “Chicago Hope.”
This is yet another hour about earnest doctors striving to save lives in a major metropolitan hospital. Tthe twist here is that the doctors are called on the carpet every week by the chief of surgery (Alfred Molina) for mistakes they’ve made. Mistakes that, in some cases, cost lives.
We’ve seen these “morbidity and mortality” conferences in lots of other medical drama before, but this is the first one that revolves around them on a weekly basis.
The problem is that the characters don’t seem real. Whether it’s the writing or the acting, Ving Rhames. Bill Irwin, Jamie Bamber, Jennifer Finnigan and Keong Sim don’t come off looking good. And don’t connect with viewers.
The best thing about “Monday Mornings” is that the cases don’t all go the way you’d expect. Including that would-have-lived-on-broadcast TV plotline in the pilot episode.
“In fact, if it was broadcast they’d probably be trying to revive him in post-[production] as we speak,” Kelley said with a laugh.