April 9, 2013



Barring unusual financial or political considerations, David E. Kelley’s MONDAY MORNINGS–which has had wretched ratings since its debut–aired its final episode on TNT with tonight’s technically season finale, so we won’t spend a lot of time poking around the body.  Returning to the show after its first month of episodes, hardly anything seemed to have happened in the interim, and the show continued to follow what now seems like an old-fashioned A-story, B-story, C-story structure.  Perhaps mindful of its likely destiny, the finale didn’t attempt any kind of cliffhanger.

The episode, written by Kelley, Story Editor Karen Struck and Staff Writer Amanda Johns (from a story by the latter two) and directed by Bill D’Elia, was also old-fashioned in its A-story trope of a life-threatening injury to leading lady Tina Ridgeway (Jennifer Finnigan), who was attacked before the first commercial break by a drug-using patient who had been turned away by Jorge Villanueva (Ving Rhames), and who spent the bulk of the episode being operated on by Sung Park (Keong Sim) while her friends, particularly boyfriend Tyler Wilson (Jamie Bamber) watched and worried.  She opened her eyes just in time for the end credits, fully recovered from her brain injury and surrounded by the beaming rest of the cast.

This being a David E. Kelley show, the other storylines provided opportunities for characters to step onto his personal soapbox.  In one, hospital Chief of Staff Harding Hooten (Alfred Molina) and organ donor specialist Buck Tierney (Bill Irwin)–the latter being the show’s designated obnoxious guy–argued passionately that a dead woman who’d signed an organ donation card should have her organs harvested, while the lawyer for the woman’s son forced them at length to admit that donors often have their skin and other tissues sold for profit to other hospitals and countries, sometimes to be used merely for cosmetic surgery.  In the other, Sydney Napur (Sarayu Rao) was so upset to see the grandmother of an obese 16 year-old who’d suffered a heart attack continue to feed him fattening foods that she called Child Services, which allowed for grandstanding speeches both by her and by Hooten in the post-surgery review session that gave the series its title.

TNT isn’t exactly the nexus for cutting-edge primetime programming, but compared to Monday Mornings, even the revived Dallas feels young and vigorous.  Kelley’s show felt as though it had been written circa 1999, when his Chicago Hope went on the air, and television simply isn’t the same place anymore.  The cast was strong, and Kelley still has a way with a righteous monologue, but Monday Mornings was built out of little more than old-timey melodrama and those monologues.  It’d be nice to think that he’ll now subject himself to some of the same probing criticism his characters had to endure whenever they lost patients, but likely he’s rich enough to remain set in his ways and wait for the next network to order a show in the hope that his once-golden touch has returned.  This patient, however, was lost on the table.


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."