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Fox adds a new set of doctors to its house in The Resident


Meet the latest batch of actors who aren’t docs, but play them on TV. Fox photo

Premiering: Sunday, Jan. 21st at approximately 9 p.m. (central) following NFC championship game before moving to regular Monday, 8 p.m. slot
Starring: Matt Czuchry, Emily VanCamp, Manish Dayal, Shaunette Renee Wilson, Bruce Greenwood, Melina Kanakaredes, Moran Atias, Merrin Dungey
Produced by: Amy Holden Jones, Todd Harthan, Rob Corn Antoine Fuqua, David Boorstein, Oly Obst, Phillip Noyce

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Amy Holden Jones, daughter of a doctor and co-creator/executive producer of Fox’s new The Resident, seems to know just what many TV critics are thinking.

“Yes, it’s a medical show,” she writes in publicity materials. “But take heart, you’ve never seen anything like this one before.”

Sigh. Yes, I have. But this doesn’t make The Resident guilty of full-blown malpractice. The cast is diverse and pretty appealing. And Fox is enough of a believer to gift The Resident with a high-profile launch following Sunday night’s Minnesota Vikings-Philadelphia Eagles NFC championship game.

The Resident otherwise will air on Mondays after Lucifer. Atlanta’s fictional Chastain Park Memorial Hospital also is something of a devil’s workshop, with venerable Bruce Greenwood playing a shaky-handed, vain, blackmailing chief of surgery.

Dr. Randolph Bell literally gets away with murder in the opening scene during a routine appendectomy. But those who witness his growing ineptitude are cowed into covering it up because Bell’s threats of reprisals are like lethal injections. He’ll deport you, demote you, see that you never practice medicine again. And on it goes through the first two episodes made available for review in a series built around the deadly implications of medical error.

Standing up to Bell -- or at least making a show of doing so -- is cocksure third year resident Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry). He’s a star player who delights in riding herd over newbies, in this case Harvard medical grad Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal).

“All the rules you followed we’ll break,” Pravesh is assured on Day One. So follow his orders or else.

Hawkins also is trying to re-land nurse practitioner Nicolette “Nic” Nevin (Emily VanCamp), who’s now playing harder to get than she apparently did the last time around. She’s the one who tells Pravesh that medical error is the No. 3 cause of death, behind only cancer and heart disease. “They don’t want us talking about that,” she adds.

In Sunday’s premiere, the patients range from a junk food-loving, plus-sized hillbilly with a gangrenous foot to a young, severely drug-addicted woman. Both carry over into Episode 2, which adds the case of a congressman and hospital benefactor who has a heart attack while hunting with his aging pals, including Dr. Bell.

He’ll need a heart transplant, but the needed matching ticker already has been reserved for one of Dr. Hawkins’ pet cases, a 28-year-old African-American school teacher. Bell of course “un-allocates” the heart, prompting a clash of wills between the two headstrong surgeons.

“There’s nothing you can do,” Nic first tells Hawkins.

“Says who?” he retorts. Groan, I need a sedative.

Still, their inevitable chess match over who gets the heart is well-played for the most part. But neither of these combustible MDs is the most interesting doctor in the house. That’s because Dr. Mina Okafor (Shaunette Renee Wilson) instantly registers as the proudly assured surgeon whose mastery of state of the art equipment literally plays into Bell’s unsteady hands. He holds a hammer over her as well, but don’t expect Okafor to play along for long.

Episode 2 also drops in Melina Kanakaredes (little seen after co-starring in CSI: NY) as the accomplished but possibly duplicitous Dr. Lane Hunter. Cast after the pilot was filmed, she’ll be a regular in future episodes.

The Resident already seems to be straining credulity with the demonic Dr. Bell. How long can he rule with an iron fist as the hospital’s most-requested celebrity surgeon? That hand isn’t getting any steadier while his ego shows no sign of downsizing. But this isn’t supposed to be a soap opera in the mode of Dallas, so Bell seemingly can’t get away with being a broadly drawn J.R. Ewing. Something’s got to give. And I’m interested just enough in The Resident to see if something soon does.


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