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Fox's doctor drama 'The Resident' gives new spin on genre

January 18, 2018 Updated: January 18, 2018 at 9:50 am
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THE RESIDENT: From left: Manish Dayal, Emily VanCamp, Matt Czuchry and Bruce Greenwood in 'The Resident' premiering Sunday on FOX. CREDIT: Guy D'Alema/FOX

"The Resident"

Cast: Matt Czuchry ("The Good Wife," "Gilmore Girls"), Emily VanCamp ("Revenge"), Bruce Greenwood ("Star Trek," "I, Robot"), Maynish Dayal ("Halt and Catch Fire," "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."), Shaunette Renee Wilson ("Billions"), Melina Kanakaredes ("Providence," "CSI: NY")

Airs: The series premieres at 7 p.m. Sunday on Fox.

The premise: "The Resident" focuses on the lives of three doctors and a nurse at the fictional Chastain Memorial Park in Atlanta. Dr. Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood) is the elder statesman and chief of surgery. Dr. Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry) is a third-year resident showing the ropes to first-day intern Devon Pravesh (Maynish Dayal). Nicolette "Nic" Nevin (Emily VanCamp) is the savvy nurse who knows how to manage this team of brilliant yet egomaniacal doctors.

Highs: Most people view doctors and nurses through a rose-colored lens, but "The Resident" takes a critical look at the medical profession, showing the good and bad behind the scenes. In the first five minutes of the pilot, a doctor accidentally kills a patient during a routine appendectomy. The surgeon quickly intimidates the attending staff, and they agree to cover up the mistake.

The storylines in "The Resident" can be a bit hard to believe, but they're based in reality. Amy Holden Jones, the co-creator and an executive producer on the show, draws from the experiences of her father, a cancer research physician. Viewers will watch doctors blackmail others to cover up secrets, shamelessly promote themselves for financial gain, and even switch the names on blood tests to get the outcome they want. And that's only in the first two episodes.

But there's more to the staff of Chastain than backroom deals and corruption. The characters are layered and intriguing, particularly the two lead doctors. Conrad Hawkins is an arrogant jerk who always has the right answer but bullies interns and plays loose and fast with the rules. He'll also challenge authority when necessary, though, and genuinely cares for his patients. Randolph Bell is a veteran physician and literal face of the hospital, his image on a side of the main building. He's developed new technologies and raised millions of dollars from donors, but Bell is losing his skills and will sacrifice anyone to keep his image from being tarnished. These two face off often and are the compelling heart of the series.

Lows: While it takes the medical genre in surprising directions, "The Resident" can be predictable. In the second episode, two men need a heart transplant, and one organ is available. One patient is a 28-year old high school science teacher; the other is a 63-year-old politician who had a heart attack while golfing with the chief surgeon. Even though the science teacher was about to go into surgery for the transplant, Bell changes things. Naturally this leads to a confrontation with Hawkins, the teacher's doctor. Things get messy from there.

A showdown between Bell and Hawkins was clear from the start. Such predictability happens with other relationships in the show as well. "The Resident" certainly offers a unique take on the genre, but it won't keep an audience if its viewers often see what's coming. Here's hoping that changes as the season progresses.

Grade (B): Medical procedurals are typically too color-by-numbers for my taste, but that's not the case here. With well-placed touches of humor, interesting storylines and a special cast, "The Resident" is a prescription you should have filled.

Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.

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