22 July 2009

Summer TV Shows and Their Empty Premises

I am a forgiving sort when it comes to TV. While my friends watch shows like Leverage and complain about plot hole you could drive a truck through, I watch happily and enjoy the wit and style of the characters. Who cares if the scheme is plausible? One thing I have trouble ignoring, however, is a show with a premise that doesn't have much depth to it. Three shows have premiered this summer that have me wondering how many episodes can they last before they run out of steam.

HawthoRNe: This show stars Jada Pinkett-Smith as a nurse who is the real power in the hospital and breaks rules to advocate for her patients. (Nurse Jackie, anyone?) My problem with this show is that, despite the big RN in the title, the writers seem to forget that Christina Hawthorne is a nurse. They have her diagnosing patients and blatantly breaking major rules, and the doctors don't all look the other way and go, "Aww, that's just Christina." They've built it upon the idea that Christina is a renegade, but how long can they let her go on without being punished and losing her job?

Royal Pains: This is another medical show. It is about Hank, a doctor who got drummed out of a NY hospital for sticking with his principles. Because he crossed someone rich and powerful, he ends up blacklisted from every hospital and medical practice in the city and then his fiancee dumps him. To cheer him up, his brother Evan takes him to the Hamptons for a weekend. Hank ends up saving a girl's life at a fancy party and endears himself to the rich vacationer crowd. He becomes a concierge doctor who makes house calls to the wealthiest people in town.

Sounds like a great show on paper, right? Well, so far every episode has been centered around Hank performing "MacGyver medicine" -- doing a tracheotomy with a ballpoint pen and that sort of thing. It's been fun to watch, but how many times can the writers put Hank on a secluded island or in a quarantined house before it starts to become repetitive and unrealistic?

Drop Dead Diva: This is the show that should have been a two-hour movie instead. It is about a skinny model named Deb and an overweight lawyer named Jane in LA. Deb gets in a car accident and dies at the same time that Jane is shot by someone aiming at her boss. As Deb is being processed in the afterlife, she gets angry and presses a button on the angel's computer that ends up putting her soul in Jane's body. So we have Deb in Jane's body and she has Jane's intelligence but Deb's memories.

To me there isn't more than six episodes of story here. Deb/Jane has Deb's best friend and the guardian angel to help her out, so it won't take long for her to figure out that she needs to fake being Jane. Only two episodes have aired, and the writers have already given us the "I didn't realize I was being so mean to fat girls when I was skinny" storyline. What else is there?

I will continue to watch these shows because there's slim pickings during the summer for a TV addict like me. However, I won't shed a tear if these shows get canceled after a few weeks or don't return next summer.
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