TV Squad previews NBC's new shows (Part 3)
by Kona Gallagher, posted Aug 14th 2009 11:02AM
Previewing NBC's fall offerings has been a long process. First I gave you Community and Trauma, then Parenthood. Now, I have NBC's second medical drama that's premiering this year: Mercy. While Trauma follows first responders in San Francisco, Mercy follows nurses in a hospital in New York.
While it's true that I've seen the pilot and should be able to give you some insight into what to expect when it premieres (Wednesday September 23, at 8 PM ), the fact is, every single thing you need to know about Mercy is summed up in its synopsis:
"Nurse Veronica Callahan (Taylor Schilling) has just returned to Mercy Hospital from a tour in Iraq and knows more about medicine than all of the residents combined. Together with fellow nurses Sonia Jimenez (Jaime Lee Kirchner) who turns the heads of everyone at Mercy hospital and Chloe Payne (Michelle Trachtenberg) a naïve newcomer who learns to deal with the difficulties of working in a challenging and sometimes unsettling profession, they navigate the daily traumas and social landmines of life and love both inside the hospital and out."
Seriously. That is really all you need to know. The pilot doesn't really delve much deeper than what you see right there. Veronica comes back deeply affected by what she saw while at war, and is questioning everyone and everything in her old life. She's left her husband who cheated on her while she was away, and is disgusted by the incompetent doctors who are too afraid to make the tough decisions that may save lives. She walks around angry throughout the entire episode, and has random outbursts because she Just. Feels. So. Much.
Counterbalancing her anger are fellow nurses, Sonia and Chloe. Sonia is a hot, and impossibly tiny-waisted woman who is juggling several suitors while trying so desperately to get out of the crime-riddled neighborhood in which she grew up. Chloe, however, is fresh off the bus from Lancaster, PA, and with her Hello Kitty scrubs plays naive girl in a strange new environment with all of the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face.
Mercy was created by Liz Heldens, who comes from Friday Night Lights, one of most subtly-acted and nuanced shows on television. So it's a huge disconnect to know that and watch Mercy, which seems to go out of its way to hit every cliche possible.
The pilot is distractingly predictable, with the exception of Veronica's relationship with her family. Her parents are alcoholics, who seem like they could be a lot of fun in upcoming episodes. She also has a brother, with whom she shared the best scene in the episode, about midway through, when they're drinking on the porch of their parents' house together, giving each other crap in the way only siblings can.
NBC has had a bumpy year, and while Community and Parenthood do give me hope about the network's upcoming season, Trauma and Mercy don't seem like they're going to break NBC out of the doldrums (also, what's with all the one-word titles?). If Mercy is going to succeed, they need to dial it back. Dial back Veronica's histrionics, dial back Chloe's tendency to cry over every patient. Make the caricatures into characters, and we may have something. Otherwise, we'll see maybe a half-dozen episodes before it fades away into the night.