May 27, 2014

PREMIERING TONIGHT: THE SKED Pilot Review: “The Night Shift”


THE NIGHT SHIFT:  Tuesday 10PM on NBC – Change the Channel

It’s as though NBC and series creators Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs (they were among the showrunners of the 90210 reboot, and wrote the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie) deliberately set out to make the least distinctive series possible with THE NIGHT SHIFT; it’s so generic, the title should have been The Medical Television Show.

Set among the late-night staff of a San Antonio hospital, Night Shift accumulates a truly impressive number of cliches.  There’s TC (Eoin Macken), who’s heroic as only a rebellious ex-Army surgeon who rides a motorcycle, owes money to bookies and wakes up hungover in jail can be.  Need a guy to take on the impossible life-saving tasks of removing a branch from a patient’s chest or reattaching a child’s head to his spine, while taking time out only to sock an officious, budget-conscious hospital bureaucrat who won’t approve a baby’s dialysis?  TC’s your man.  And what would a doc like that do without an ex-girlfriend as his supervisor, so they can trade angry banter and smoldering looks over the bodies of patients?  Meet Jordan (Jill Flint), newly appointed head of the night shift.  Is there a pair of brand-new interns, one a hot woman (Krista, played by Janeanne Goossen), the other a Ivy League graduate whose superciliousness is exceeded by his clumsiness (Paul, played by Robert Bailey, Jr)?  Of course there are.  Troubled back-stories?  One for bean-counter Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez), and another for macho doctor Drew (Brendan Fehr), thanks very much, and that’s not even counting newly-widowed Althea (Brigid Brannagh), who has to find the strength to put a scalpel in her hand again when lives are at stake.

There’s not much to be said about, let alone for, The Night Shift.  The actors recite their lines capably, alternating between the “Get me four units of A-neg stat!” brand of dialogue with wannabe-Shonda Rhimesian (in their dreams!) soap, and Pierre Morel directs the pilot so it moves smoothly enough from crisis to crisis.  There isn’t a single instant when you’re in any doubt about what’s going to happen next–which seems exactly to be what’s intended–and the occasional attempts at humor are embarrassing (Paul, cheerfully juggling objects that he thinks are from the hospital lost-and-found, learns that they were all removed from patients’ rectums, and no, I’m not making that up).

Is there an audience for such an old-hat kind of medical show, which only needs Marcus Welby, MD as the head of surgery to wrap things up in a bow?  Even in summer?  Well, millions of people watch the new Dallas and the sitcoms on TV Land, and Night Shift seems intended for that crowd.  The Night Shift comes with its own chronic condition; it’s the first medical show with chronic arthritis.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."