Monday Mornings on TV

Monday Mornings

“Monday Mornings” is a hospital drama written by David E. Kelley, shown Mondays on TNT. The reference to Monday mornings is the weekly M&M conference. It stands for morbidity and mortality – an investigation into the patients who died during the week. The conference is run by the Dr. Harding Hooten (Alfred Molina), appropriately nicknamed “Hardly Human.” Doctors dread being called to the stage and berated for patient losses that occurred. Hooten’s the tough guy of the piece. In a recent episode, however, he showed sympathy and extremely sweet bedside manner to a little girl. Sweet? That’s a surprise.

Kelley shares executive producer credit with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, whose writings gave birth to the show. It struck me as Grey’s Anatomy meets NY Med, an eight-episode documentary about two New York hospitals. That show was superb, and Grey’s is in its eighth season. (Grey’s too showed M&M conferences, but they were far less brutal.)

The star is Ving Rhames as trauma chief Dr. Jorge Villanueva. He’s gruff and imposing, but he’s right, as he steps in at the last minute and suggests other patient treatment, because the doctors are simply wrong. (Ving Rhames once famously demanded Jack Lemmon come to the Golden Globes stage in 1998. He refused the award because he insisted Lemmon deserved it more than he did. Here’s the video: )

Other stars of the series are British actor Somay Gupta  Jamie Bamber, with a flawless American accent, as Dr. Tyler Wilson, a neurosurgeon with a God complex. He doubts the work or opinion of anyone else. Keong Sim plays Dr. Sung Park, a neurosurgeon who’s blunt, literal and devoid of compassion. He has an English language problem that is stereotypical and insulting. The hospital is full of neurosurgeons. Yet another one is Dr. Tina Ridgeway (Jennifer Finnigan), who has problems with work vs. home. Bill Irwin plays Dr. Buck Tierney, the disliked chief of transplantation, with a touch of the grim reaper. Why can’t the donors die already? Sarayu Rao plays Dr. Sydnet Napur, a cardiothoracic surgeon who’s all business. Dr. Michelle Robidaux (Emily Swallow) is seen as the baby resident who has admiration and apparent fear of everybody else. The show takes place in the fictional Chelsea General Hospital.

David E. Kelley is the hitmaker behind Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Boston Legal and Harry’s Law. “Monday Mornings” should be his latest hit. This is a hint: If something is written by David E. Kelley, watch it. (Unrelated, but another guarantee: See anything directed by Mike Nichols.) It was picked up for only ten episodes, so don’t miss it.

Don’t miss the new show “Monday Mornings,” shown on TNT on Mondays. The show is written by David E. Kelley, who shares the executive producer title with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on whose writings “Monday Mornings” is based. It will be on only until April, so don’t miss it.



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