‘Boston Med’ gives inside view of life at three Hub hospitals

Summer Rx

By Mark A. Perigard
Boston Herald
June 24, 2010

Boston Med: B+

You’ve heard the saying: If you’re going to get sick, there’s no better place to be than Boston.

The entire nation is about to get that prescription as ABC debuts “Boston Med,” an addictive eight-week miniseries that tracks the dedicated providers at three of the Hub’s top hospitals.

Produced by the makers of the Peabody Award-winning series “Hopkins,” each episode focuses on critical cases at Massachusetts General Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

In the premiere, MGH trauma surgeons race to save a police officer shot in the face and arms while apprehending a robber.

At Brigham and Women’s, a surgeon tries to obtain a set of lungs to separate and transplant into two dying women.

Pina Patel, a resident in emergency medicine at Brigham and Women’s, struggles to master procedures and win the respect of her peers.

“If you show a little bit of weakness, people will, like, prey upon that,” she says. “You really have to hold your own.”

Next week, Children’s Hospital tries to save an infant with severe congenital heart defects. His father, a soldier on leave from Iraq, is shaken by the severity of his son’s condition.

Life sometimes mirrors “Grey’s Anatomy.” MGH nurse Amanda Grabowski demonstrates her skill in the emergency room even as she bemoans her lack of a personal life. In the July 8 episode, she good-naturedly grouses, “There’s no McDreamys or McSteamys walking around here. There’s McDumb, McDud.”

Sure enough, to her embarrassment, a TV-cute resident asks her out.

One warning: The surgeries can be quite graphic – an August episode, for example, focuses on the nation’s second face-transplant surgery – and not every case ends well.

There are the prerequisite panoramic views of the city. One episode ends with an overhead shot of Fenway Park [map] for no apparent reason, and every show seems to include at least one shot of a Red Line train crossing the Longfellow Bridge.

The decision to spotlight three hospitals over one often leads to scattershot storytelling. You might get dizzy trying to keep up with the swirling cast of doctors, nurses and patients.

Moreover, each episode runs about 40 minutes stretched over an hour – that’s a painful amount of commercials to sit through.

But what’s just as impressive as the skills of the doctors is the quiet strength of the family members who stand by their ailing relatives. An elderly man is about to be wheeled into surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed from his lungs. His wife of 54 years kisses him and says, “Remember, you promised me 60 (years) and I want 65.”

If you don’t tear up at least once during each episode, you’ve already coded. “Boston Med” is the cure for summertime TV blues.

Series premiere tonight at 10 on WCVB (Ch. 5).

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