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Right on schedule: The Night Shift begins Peacock's early summer push


Sick or hurt? These are your options on The Night Shift. NBC photo

Premiering; Tuesday, May 27th at 9 p.m. (central) on NBC
Starring: Eoin Macken, Ken Leung, Jill Flint, Freddy Rodriguez, Brendan Fehr, Daniella Alonso, Robert Bailey, Jr., Jeananne Goossen, JR Lemon
Produced by: Gabe Sachs, Jeff Judah

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NBC slams into its big post-Memorial Day push this week with three new series originally earmarked for midseason.

The Night Shift, Undateable and Crossbones arrive in that order with their gaggles of docs, commitment-phobics and pirates. In the case of Night Shift, NBC has sent all eight of the scheduled episodes. That’s asking too much unless the series is of extraordinarily high quality. And since Night Shift is nowhere near the caliber of freshman scholars such as Fargo and True Detective, your friendly content provider met Night Shift almost halfway by getting through the first three hours.

Set in San Antonio but filmed in Albuquerque, Night Shift is spearheaded by Afghanistan war veteran T.C. Callahan (Irishman Eoin Macken). He’s talented, troubled and resistant to taking orders, of course. Tuesday’s premiere episode, following the Season 9 launch of America’s Got Talent, begins with T.C. sleeping it off in jail after another night of heavy drinking and bar fighting.

He’s soon back aboard his chopper for a highway commute back to the San Antonio Memorial ER. But along the way, T.C. stops to save the life of a tree-trimmer with a big limb embedded in his torso. The paramedics on the scene are amazed by his quick actions and expertise. Gotta go, though. Night shift starts at 7 p.m. and it’s already early evening.

The patient load is constant, ever-varying and in the early going ranges from a middle-aged man with shredded testicles to a woman who thinks Matt Damon is trying to kill her.

There’s also a new and prototypically officious senior management dude running the show. Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez) aims to run a tight ship. Just ask him. “With fiscal challenges (and) Obama care, we need to cut costs, improve customer satisfaction and increase profits,” he informs the staff.

That especially goes for you, T.C. “You’re on your last chance,” Ragosa says. “So you either get in line or you are out of here!”

Yawn, T.C. then decks him before racing to the scene of a major car wreck and rescuing a boy who otherwise would have ended up paralyzed. You can’t hope to contain him. You can’t hope to control him either. By the way, he’s also a sports betting addict.

T.C. isn’t quite the whole show, though. There’s also Dr. Jordan Alexander (Jill Flint), who used to date him and now is the new chief of the night shift. Fellow military veterans Topher Kia (Ken Leung from Lost) and Drew Alister (Brendan Fehr) also help to staff the ER along with beauteous psychiatrist Landry Miller (Daniella Alonso) and virginal residents Krista Bell-Harris and Paul Cummings (Jeananne Goossen, Robert Bailey, Jr.)

The gullible but eager to learn Cummings is subjected to an inordinate number of pranks and indignities that eventually take on the distasteful trappings of hardcore fraternity hazing. But viewers are supposed to find it riotous when he’s grossed out by having to examine a steady stream of elderly patients with sexually transmitted diseases. That’s in Episode 2, which to its marginal credit also has an interesting twist or two.

When not saving lives or healing the ill, the docs spend most of their off-time at an adjacent R&R spot on the hospital grounds. It’s known as The Tailgate, and the whole scene seems preposterous at best.

Still, Night Shift at least doesn’t feature any MDs with extrasensory powers or bipolar disorders. T.C. may be a handful but he comes by his flaws honestly. “Do you not see how self-destructive you are?” Dr. Jordan asks him. Well, yeah, he pretty much does. And it’s not because T.C. was raised by werewolves or goes off his rocker when not properly taking his meds.

Night Shift won’t make anyone forget the glories of NBC’s ER at the height of its powers. It shows some signs of being a passable summertime drama series, though. Even Rodriguez’s seemingly one-note bean counter has a little texture applied en route to Episode 3, which otherwise goes mostly off the rails with its centerpiece feral hog-hunting storyline. On the other hand, Leung’s character has some engaging scenes in that same episode with a little girl who senses that something is seriously wrong with her daddy.

She’s right, of course. Sometimes -- but not nearly enough times -- Night Shift pretty much gets it right, too.


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