Wednesday, January 5, 2022

REVIEW: 'Good Sam' - Sam Brings Administrative Changes to the Hospital When Griff Can No Longer Serve as Chief in 'Pilot'

CBS' Good Sam - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Dr. Sam Griffith excels in her new role as chief of surgery after her boss, Dr. Rob "Griff" Griffith, falls into a coma. When he wakes up months later demanding to resume his duties, she is tasked with supervising the egotistical expert who never acknowledged her stellar talent. Complicating matters, he also happens to be her father. As he defies Sam's authority, the big question becomes whether this father and daughter will ever be able to mend their own relationship as expertly as they heal the hearts of their patients.

"Pilot" was written by Katie Wech and directed by Tamra Davis

Sam and Griff have different ideas about the best way to forge the next great generation of surgeons. Griff operates as a bully. He demeans and belittles those who work under him believing he can shame them into being better. Meanwhile, Sam aspires to lead with respect while acknowledging the humanity of those she works with. She believes that will creates a secure environment that will produce confidence in the team because they won't be stressed out over personal appeasements. Griff has long ruled over the hospital as its chief. It only takes six months for Sam to completely change everything. That's just enough time to suggest personal and professional growth without making it seem ludicrous for Griff to emerge from a coma afterwards. That's the event that sets this entire story into motion. Griff is a toxic character who needs to change his behavior. He can't start from a good, healthy place. That growth has to come over time. And yet, it's hard to believe anyone having any tolerance for this guy especially once his own health compromises his ability to lead as the best surgeon at the hospital. Sam believes she has grown enough in her authority role that the balance has shifted in this core power dynamic. It hasn't. It's all made further complicated by the reveal that they are actually father and daughter. As such, it's easy to conflate being a good doctor with also being a good father. What makes one excel in one area cannot be transferred over to the other. That's the lesson Griff potentially learns at the conclusion of this premiere. And yet, the story really doesn't offer much confidence in that regard. It has moments where it needs to showcase both Sam and Griff as being right. It's meant to annoy the other because this is drastically different than what they expect in this environment. Griff doesn't like the changes. Sam doesn't want her father to constantly be undermining her. But it's all so overwrought because of the personal connection involved. It would genuinely be compelling to watch a reformist be placed in a position of power only to clash with the systemic forces in the institution who refuse to carry out her new policies. Instead, Griff serves as the only stand-in who questions what Sam is doing. It's not the way he operates. He has always had the confidence to do whatever he wanted. That essentially meant shunning his own daughter because she was in an accident that required heart surgery. That moment changed everything in this family. It leaves a lot of unprocessed trauma for all of them to mine through. Griff's ex-wife seems more capable of calling out those shortcomings in both Griff and Sam. That too can easily place her in a box in terms of what she is capable of doing in this ensemble. The same applies to many of the characters. It's basically all about the big reveals as to how all of this can be even more personal for Sam. It's an attack on her and the way she wants to lead. She succeeds because she is brilliant in the operating room as well. Sam and Griff can work efficiently as a pair. Sam just no longer has any hope for her father serving in that role in her life. She gives that up here. In fairness, he doesn't really do anything to prove that he wants to try to make up for the past. He simply has the expertise to walk her through a complicated procedure. That's the grand gesture. It's about the surgery. They can thrive in the professional context. It's much more complicated in personal terms. It's a way for the show to hopefully build a strong connection with the audience. But again, it's just so overwrought and forced that it's hard to take any of the medical drama seriously. That's no longer the focus in what aspires to be a medical procedural. Sam may at least have a love triangle to pursue on top of all of this. Of course, neither of those potential love interests has any definition outside of that predetermined fate. In fact, it seems like Sam managing this one team of residents is all that she must do in her role as chief of surgery. She's the only one who actually operates as well. The focus may be narrowed because of production limitations. That's why the personal drama is amped up so much. And yet, these shortcomings are still glaring and noticeable without offering much to entice the viewer forward.