Lunchtable TV Talk: The Night Shift


Sometimes the stuff television offers feels like it’s churned out on a conveyor belt in a factory. Some time ago I watched the previous season(s) of The Night Shift, about a bunch of doctors working the – duh – overnight shift in a Texas hospital. It was not anything special – in fact when I picked up watching the latest season, I did not even remember that there had already been two, not one, seasons. But… I still kept watching.

Between seasons of The Night Shift, I started watching the Chicago juggernaut (Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D.). Not only did Chicago Med (and all its gratuitous crossovers into the other Chicago properties) wash away all memory of The Night Shift, when The Night Shift returned, it felt and seemed a lot less interesting than it had been because it was a lot like watching more Chicago Med, only with characters I no longer remembered or recognized. (Weirder still, they are all on NBC in the US, so… burnout, anyone?

Despite the American appetite for medical, legal and cop shows, I’d think the idea of getting lost in the oversaturation of the theme(s) would be enough reason to look at different topics. I don’t know – despite the “danger” in being lost in a sea of sameness, people keep introducing new shows in the same mold, and some catch on while others don’t. I don’t know why. I tried to watch Code Black, but holy shit – I could not even get through one episode (it seemed badly miscast), but it was renewed – multiple times, maybe. I thought Monday Mornings was a good premise, and I liked it, but it didn’t last and its decent cast landed elsewhere (e.g., Jamie Bamber had a great turn in the deeply unsettling but immensely satisfying British crime drama, Marcella, and prolific and interactive Tweeter – she seems exceedingly generous with her time – Jennifer Finnigan is a lead in Tyrant). I thought a Jennifer Beals-led medical-supernatural drama, Proof, was overegged, and it too was canceled. Go figure.

The Night Shift, being rather lacklustre and lacking in any real hook, seemed like it might suffer a similar fate. Maybe watching Scott Wolf be an alcoholic surgeon “working the steps” (in The Night Shift) rather than Oliver Platt being a particularly intuitive psychiatrist (in Chicago Med) is the kind of thing that makes the difference. I don’t know. It’s not like either show is must-see… it’s just that this is what is on in the background as I am working on a million other things. It takes something really remarkable to make me look up from my work and pay close attention (and there are very few of those things right now).

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