Cast: Matt Czuchry, Emily VanCamp, Manish Dayal, Bruce Greenwood
There are a lot of hospital shows on television today so it’s oftentimes hard for new ones to stand out. The new Fox drama The Resident tries to alleviate that issue by focusing specifically on one arrogant resident, who is beloved by patients but difficult to work with.
Matt Czuchry, who previously played a supporting character on Gilmore Girls and The Good Wife, plays the title character.
“Everything you thought you knew about medicine is wrong,” Dr. Conrad Hawkins (Czuchry) tells Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal), a new doctor training under Conrad.
Devon is immediately shocked by Conrad’s abrasive behavior but starts to respect him when he sees how much the patients appreciate him. Nurse Nicolette Nevin (Emily VanCamp), Conrad’s former girlfriend, also sings Conrad’s praises noting that he’s one of the best doctors out there.
Like the Fox show House, the show’s focus is on uniquely gifted doctor and the team of medical professionals who work alongside him.
The program quickly sets up a rivalry between Conrad and the hospital’s beloved lead surgeon Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood). Bell is a world-renowned professional whose reputation to the outside world remains intact. The hospital’s doctors know what he truly is though. In fact, the show’s first scene shows Bell botching a simple and trying to cover up his own mistakes.
Creators Amy Holden Jones, Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi clearly have a lot more on their minds than the comings and goings of a major hospital. The show has a point of view about medicine today and the program’s cynicism comes through frequently, even pushing the show to extremes.
From snapshots in the operating room to doctors who are tempted to pull the plug on their patients, the show features a lot of outlandish and unbelievable moments.
Bell’s behavior, for one, is hard to believe and his ability to survive his failures is predicated on the fact that he’s able to manipulate, cajole and even blackmail his fellow doctors. Greenwood does solid work on the program but the program’s antipathy towards him really prevents his character from being more than a one-dimensional villain.
In the second episode, the main storyline focuses on a heart transplant. The question is whether or not the heart should be used on a young teacher with plenty of life ahead of him (who has been waiting for a transplant for years) or one of the hospital’s financial backers. Again, the show pits Dr. Hawkins against Dr. Bell for a dramatic showdown.
The stories are often interesting to watch but the show too often relies on outlandish stories to get its point across.
Czuchry is a good actor but it’s hard to empathize with his unsympathetic character. The supporting cast is far more interesting and that includes Shaunette Renée Wilson as Doctor Okafor. Okafor can be rough to her patients (which provides fodder for a few laughs) but her back story seems much more interesting than Conrad’s back story.
If the program lessens some of its most extreme moments and focuses on the doctors and their patients in a more considered way, The Resident could go a long way.
Review by: John Hanlon