Lunchtable TV Talk: Heartbeat


I wrote a bit the other day about how there is a glut of medical drama on tv and wondered about why some of it works, hits its stride, gains an audience (ER, Grey’s Anatomy, Chicago Hope, Chicago Med, The Night Shift…) while other stuff fails (Monday Mornings, A Gifted Man, Off the Map and a bunch more…). There are other shows that fall into the medical category but I would not put them in the broad “medical drama” category, for example, Scrubs was a long-running and successful comedy; The Knick is an exceptional prestige period piece on Cinemax – an entirely different breed from the churned-out, regurgitated medical-drama-of-the-week delivered on network TV; House was less about medicine and more about a troubled man; Nurse Jackie was a lot like House – medicine was the backdrop but Jackie as a woman trying to balance addiction, work, family was what brought the house down.

Heartbeat is another one of these that absolutely didn’t work. I don’t even know how to count the ways it did not work. But here are some reasons:

  • Melissa George (in general in the role – beyond her reach; in the role – too over-the-top and trying too hard/overacting)
  • The love triangle
  • The head of the hospital: Not believable as head of hospital; it’s like casting decided that they needed a hot, young, non-white/”ethnic” woman in a leadership role and checked that box off a list. It’s not that the actress was bad, just that the whole setup was stupid.
  • The flashbacks: Added no value, tried to build some meaning but just wasted time.
  • The outlandish medical stories (this was meant to be the hook, I guess)
  • The outlandish scenes (dance party in the hospital, some kind of off-site race, a flash mob in the hospital, etc.)
  • Gimmicky
  • Poor writing and even poorer dialogue: It was abjectly stupid

I could elaborate on these points, but it would waste even more time (and I already wasted enough by watching the ten or so episodes of this that existed).

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