Noth­ing new about New Am­s­ter­dam

The fo­cus on this new med­i­cal drama is on the char­ac­ters, not the medicine.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - JANE F. RAGAVAN

THE med­i­cal sys­tem is bro­ken, and at the tit­u­lar pub­lic hos­pi­tal, the new med­i­cal di­rec­tor is com­mit­ted to fix­ing it. Sound fa­mil­iar?

Said di­rec­tor, Dr Max Good­win (Ryan Eg­gold), has grand plans for the New York City hos­pi­tal. Af­ter suc­cess­fully run­ning a clinic in Chi­na­town, he now has the big­ger chal­lenge of shak­ing up a med­i­cal fa­cil­ity that in­cludes a pub­lic school, a prison ward and even of­fices of the United Na­tions.

New Am­s­ter­dam is so fa­mous that it is the only Amer­i­can hos­pi­tal a poor sick boy from Liberia has heard about and he came all the way from his coun­try to seek treat­ment there.

Max’s mis­sion is to shake up a hos­pi­tal that “places billing over pa­tient care”.

He has the guts and gump­tion to do it, but his way is to ask nicely, “How can I help?” and with­out be­ing a dic­ta­tor – even when he is fir­ing all the car­diac sur­geons his first day on the job.

A hos­pi­tal with­out heart doc­tors? Huh. Oh yes, this guy is tak­ing care of busi­ness.

(He later re­hires Dr Floyd Reynolds, played by Jocko Sims, be­cause he’s ap­par­ently less money-minded than his col­leagues.)

New Am­s­ter­dam has the req­ui­site dis­ease-of-the-week, but if you’re look­ing for a med­i­cal pro­ce­dural with puz­zling cases and off­beat ways to treat them, you won’t find it here.

The point of this TV se­ries seems to be how the char­ac­ters learn about them­selves from be­ing the good doc­tors that they are.

Take on­col­o­gist Dr He­len Sharpe (Freema Agye­man). When we first meet her, she’s a cocky celebrity doc­tor who spends most of her time ap­pear­ing on talk shows to pro­mote the hos­pi­tal.

But by the end of the first episode, af­ter Max gives her The Speech, she re­alises that her real work lies not in be­ing the pretty face-of-the-hos­pi­tal PR ma­chine but in prac­tis­ing medicine like a ded­i­cated doc­tor should.

The char­ac­ter be­comes a lit­tle in­sipid af­ter that, though, and I can’t help but won­der if He­len would have been more use­ful stay­ing where she was as a foil for Max and his de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Janet Mont­gomery, Tyler Labine and Anu­pam Kher – who has ap­peared in more Bol­ly­wood movies than all the act­ing gigs the oth­ers have done com­bined – round out the main cast.

In New Am­s­ter­dam, you quickly get to know a lot about the flawed char­ac­ters’ lives by the sec­ond episode, in­clud­ing why Max is charg­ing ahead to fix things.

This show isn’t bril­liant nor par­tic­u­larly out­stand­ing in any way, but it is in­ter­est­ing enough if you have an hour to kill. (On net­work TV in the US, it has a ready­made au­di­ence as it comes on af­ter the very pop­u­lar This Is Us.)

I just wish the writ­ers had done a bet­ter job with the script. Some of the lines that come out of the char­ac­ters’ mouths are be­yond corny. Look at th­ese ones:

“If you can’t help Gemma as a doc­tor, then help her as a hu­man be­ing.”

“Let’s get into some trou­ble, let’s be doc­tors.”

“The only way to beat death is life.” And all of it de­liv­ered with a straight face.

New Am­s­ter­dam airs ev­ery Wed­nes­day at 10pm on Foxlife (Astro Ch 711).

— Pho­tos: Hand­out

‘Let’s just stand around while the pa­tients die.’

‘I won­der what’s the spe­cial at the cafe­taria to­day.’

‘You gave your wife your germs, didn’t you?’

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