July 16, 2014

THE SKED Series Premiere Review: “Rush”


RUSH:  Thursday 9PM on USA – Change the Channel

USA Network is aiming for “edgy” with its new Thursday line-up, and so the pilot for RUSH begins with its antihero Will Rush (Tom Ellis) doing coke.  The twist?  When his lady friend goes into cardiac arrest, Will reveals himself as a brilliant physician who saves her life.  This, after all, USA, so Rush turns out to be Royal Pains mixed with Ray Donovan–and with some DNA from the short-lived Rake and The Lincoln Lawyer, except with a medical procedural switched for a legal one.  If you think the notion of Rush as a title is clever rather than generic, referring as it does to the character’s name as well as the rush he seeks from drugs and his work, this is the show for you.  (At least Greg Kinnear’s character wasn’t actually named Rake.)

As in Royal Pains, the subject at hand is a medical practice catering to the wealthy.  Like Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller, Will is a Los Angeleno who’s mostly in motion, although his vehicle of choice is a vintage Mercedes convertible.  (He still listens to CDs in it, because that’s the way he rolls.)  Like Ray Donovan, Will is a fixer of sorts, brought in for emergencies that can’t make the papers, both serious (a star baseball player who beats up his girlfriend) and comic (a producer with genital issues), and paid strictly in cash.  And like the protagonist of Rake, he’s meant to be irresponsible yet irresistible, his impish but virile charm making up for his lack of moral fiber.  (Although he does have his own version of a moral code, this once again being USA Network–that brutish ballplayer doesn’t go unpunished.)  Will has a spunky, lovely, principled Girl Friday assistant in Eve (Sarah Habel), and a (relatively) straight-arrow ER doctor buddy in Alex (Larenz Tate), but otherwise his world is unpopulated as he drives from one crisis to the next.

So much is second-hand in Rush that the pilot has barely a breath of life.  It’s been written and directed by Jonathan Levine, but although he has a strong movie track record (50/50 and Warm Bodies), he didn’t originate either of those projects–his last original script was the druggy, unfocused indie The Wackness, and while Rush is a far slicker piece of work, it’s similarly uncompelling.  (And not nearly as distinctive.)  The show already seems exhausted in its first hour:  it resorts to making Will a mob doctor, on top of everything else, performing surgery on a drug dealer’s injured colleague with a gun to his head.  Ellis, yet another British actor painting on a bland US accent for a TV role, is a good-looking guy and a personable lead, but neither he nor the character show any idiosyncracy that might make them memorable.

Rush is “edginess” for people who think a PG-13 movie may be something to worry about, a cart full of familiar pop culture characters and storylines that feels like it was never developed past the first pitch meeting.  Will Rush may stay up all night during the course of the pilot, but his show is a snooze.

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."