Tuesday, September 25, 2018

REVIEW: 'New Amsterdam' - Max Takes Over as Medical Director Believing He Knows How to Change the System in 'Pilot'

NBC's New Amsterdam - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Dr. Max Goodwin, the newest medical director of America's oldest public hospital, sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care. Not taking no for an answer, Dr. Goodwin must disrupt the status quo and prove he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded and underappreciated hospital - the only one in the world capable of treating Ebola patients, prisoners from Rikers and the President of the United States under one roof.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of NBC's New Amsterdam.

"Pilot" was written by David Schulner and directed by Kate Dennis

New Amsterdam Hospital is in a constant state of flux. Dr. Max Goodwin is the sixth medical director hired in as many years. That immediately informs the audience that the board of this hospital has clashed with the many ways people have tried to run the business lately. Of course, none of that is really seen in this premiere. Instead, it's all about Max coming in and shacking things up. He has free reign to do so as well. In fact, the premiere wants to inspire the audience watching because it wants us to get just as excited about medicine as the doctors now get to be. The fire is ignited within them once more. They can pitch their radical ideas in the hopes of being able to implement them now. But they also just get the appreciation from a doctor in charge who actually wants to put patients first. It just feels a little too manipulative without having any real stakes to it. It's a whole lot of talk about the doctors telling Max that the system is rigged and he won't be able to run things this way for a long time. And yet, there is only that initial round of lawsuits being threatened after the cardiac department is fired. Then, the show just casually moves on with its more procedural elements. It simply wants to be a feel good hour of television where these doctors are able to make a difference in someone's life. It's purely aspirational. That's not inherently bad either. It just suffers from none of the characters really being all that exciting to watch. This hour highlights the scope of this hospital and all the facilities that it holds. It is able to treat a wide variety of patients while still being a public hospital. And yet, it barely has any time to give to the patients in the prison ward or in the government official area. Instead, that time is spent on a girl abused in the foster care system and a woman misdiagnosed twice with the medications hurting her. Neither of those stories really work. It just feels like the show reaching for these powerful emotional moments. And yes, some viewers are probably going to get hooked by them. They just weren't earned in the slightest. Finally, there is just way too much going on with Max as a character. He's not only the new medical director of the hospital. He is also estranged from his pregnant wife who comes into the emergency room where things are tense for a minute as the doctors search for the fetal heartbeat. He also has cancer. That just feels like too many twists piled on top of this character in order to make him a complicated presence. But they are all manipulative in their own very obvious ways. And so, there is nothing really for the audience to latch onto in the hopes that all of this will work out for Max because he's the only person who can conduct this change at the hospital. He's mostly just an annoying guy who doesn't understand how his actions could be coming across.