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Monday Mornings: Just What the Doctor Ordered?

TNT Pulls the Plug on Monday MorningsTNT Pulls the Plug on Monday Mornings

TNT on Monday night premiered Monday Mornings, from David E. Kelley and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, M.D. (on whose book the series is based). On a TV landscape that plays host to only one  resilient hospital drama, is it just what the doctor ordered?

MM (love it just for the monogram!) follows the doctors of Chelsea General as they go about saving lives and, with less enthusiasm, face Morbidity & Mortality meetings in the dreaded Room 311, in which they are called on the carpet to account for (sometimes fatal) shortcomings in patient care.

Alfred Molina stars as Dr. Harding Hooten, the chief of staff who leads the M&Ms with an iron fist and steely glare. Among his staff, you met:

* Dr. Jorge Villanueva (played by Ving Rhames), a highly respected trauma chief as gentle as he is imposing in appearance. If pressed for a knee-jerk and most likely spot-on diagnosis, he’s your guy.

* Dr. Tyler Wilson (Jamie Bamber), an elite neurosurgeon who in the premiere made a call that came back (and will continue) to haunt him, rattling as it did old demons. He is very close with…

* Dr. Tina Ridgeway (Jennifer Finnigan), a brilliant neuro whose home life is an apparent mess. Seriously, you may as well stamp an expiration date on the beleaguered husband’s forehead. She is besties with…

* Dr. Sydney Napur (Sarayu Rao), a pitbull who suffers no fools. She regularly butts heads with Dr. Lieberman (played by Jonathan Silverman aka Finnigan’s real-life hubby), and where there’s smoke…. etcetera.

* Transplant specialist Dr. Buck Tierney, played by Bill Irwin, is the resident ass — and that’s exactly what he makes of himself next week when circling a dying patient, waiting for organs. David E. Kelley, while otherwise restrained here when it comes to his trademark character quirks, gave this guy squeaky shoes.

* Dr. Sung Park (Keong Sim) is dangerously game to play with the latest toys and techniques. He received from Kelley an absurdly fractured grasp of English and zero bedside manner. Next week he delivers the memorable prognosis, “Do not? Dead.”

* Dr. Michelle Robidaux (Emily Swallow), a mere 20-something resident, is the typical eager beaver amongst weary vets.

The pilot, I thought, was strong, though I’d argue that Week 2 really illustrated the show’s promise, when several of the doctors gets involved in the case of a child prodigy, and Tierney is targeted by an M&M. But what did you think of Monday Mornings?

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