TV Review - Off the Map ("Pilot")


Airs: Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC
Genre: Medical Drama
The Set-Up: Three established, "older" docs mix it up with three naive, "baby" docs at a clinic in Central America, where technology is in short supply and impromptu coconut IVs are the norm.  Off the Map comes from producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice), and it bears the same mix of humor, romance, medicine, and melodrama as those other shows.
The Good: The cast of Off the Map is likeable.  Several recognizable faces - with Friday Night Lights' Zach Gilford and Meryl Streep's daughter, Mamie Gummer, probably being the most easily identifiable.  The exotic locale is gorgeous and offers a nice change of pace for the typical medical show, allowing for some interesting dramatic moments like the aforementioned coconut IV and a Cliffhanger-type mid-air rope rescue attempt.  This follows the successful format of Grey's to a tee.  It really is Grey's Without Borders.  Nice cameo by Michael McKean, and a beautiful ash-scattering sequence towards the end.
The Bad: Each character is saddled with predictable and convenient emotional baggage.  Everyone has that one little dark secret in their past that they'd prefer to forget about.  It's a little too tidy.  The pilot tried to wrap all of its stories up in a neat little package.  Rings a little too overfamiliar - same hospital show, different settings.
The Verdict: If Rhimes and show creator Jenna Bans can play up the chemistry of the cast and find new, unique medical dilemmas, Off the Map could be a quality addition to the medical drama genre.  I think most people who tune in will like it.  I'm not sure it's DVR-addition worthy, but for dumb escapism, you could do a lot worse.  **1/2 out of 5.

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