High-minded hospital drama
Based on tonight’s initial evidence, Combat Hospital, the new, Canadian-made fictional drama about the men and women who serve at the only military hospital equipped for advanced surgery in southern Afghanistan, is a game and dogged effort. The cast ensemble is believable and compelling by turns, and the stories are more urgent and rooted in the here and now than those in the typical prime-time medical drama.
Combat Hospital is set in the year 2006, but it could be happening today. It is about “the quiet heroes,” the medics, doctors and nurses who battle the elements and fight to save lives, often in harrowing conditions. Elias Koteas strikes an almost professorial, incontrol pose as Col. Xavier Marks, the Canadian Forces officer in charge of the Multinational Medical Unit hospital based at Kandahar Air Field (KAH), southern Afghanistan, and he’s a key presence in tonight’s opening episode.
The hour belongs primarily, though, to Michelle Borth as Maj. Rebecca Gordon, a skilled but overconfident trauma surgeon back in the world, who’s assigned to KAH alongside a wet-behindthe-ears newbie, played with a credible, hesitant uncertainty by Terry Chen.
Combat Hospital isn’t perfect. The setting is claustrophobic, and there are times when it could use a little community outreach in the towns and mountain passes beyond the walls of the clinic. Combat Hospital deserves a chance, though. It’s not Grey’s Anatomy Goes to Afghanistan, thankfully. It’s more high-minded than that. (Global – 10 p.m., ABC – 11 p.m.)