It’s rare that I should start a review of a television pilot by complimenting the cinematography, but that’s exactly where I need to start with Code Black. From the first seconds of the medical drama’s premiere it was clear this was not going to be the pristine white and tonally blue hospital show we’ve seen time and again. This stage ER is dingy and loud and nothing looks very new. In essence, it looks like an actual emergency room. And it perfectly set the tone for the break-neck hour that followed.
Code Black follows the doctors in the L.A. County Hospital emergency room as they treat “half of Los Angeles” through the night. The doctors are lead by nurse “Mama” Jesse (Luis Guzmán) and Dr. “Daddy” Leanne Rorish. Rorish is the stereotypical TV doctor with a mysteriously tragic past who doesn’t have time for rules or medical ethics when there are lives to save. Her cowboy tendencies are metered by reasonable-to-a-fault Dr. Neal Hudson (Raza Jaffrey).
The residents that started in the pilot seem almost incidental, though. Having people starting a new job is a great way to introduce a pilot, but this batch of doctors doesn’t inspire much curiosity. Obviously the show will begin to focus on their personal lives as the show progresses, which is one reason I’m not too keen on keeping up.
One of the aspects that strayed from reality is a pretty major sticking point. As anyone who has ever worked any sort of job can attest, the busier you are, the faster your shift goes by. So, you would think that as we watched these doctors treat patient after patient at record setting speed, the time would fly by. This was not the case. At one commercial creak I glanced at the clock, certain we were close to the end to see we just about halfway through. Not a good sign.
Note, I said one of the aspects that strayed from reality, not the only aspect. As much as Code Black felt like a grittier, more realistic take on the medical world, it clearly suffered from a Hollywood complex. I’m just saying, I doubt that an ER with more bodies than beds would take a moment of silence so everyone could listen to a newborn baby gurgle through a phone. But it sure did make a touching scene.
Final Verdict: Not my particular cup of tea, but I can see how it could be for some people.
*Code Black airs Wednesdays a 10/9c on CBS.
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