Over the course of history, the medical procedural continues to be a backbone of many networks. “Gray’s Anatomy” grabs ratings despite being 15 seasons deep at this point. “E.R.” became a mainstay for a decade. Now, NBC will roll out a new medical procedural in “New Amsterdam” for the Fall. For those burnt out from the genre, it makes sense you wouldn’t tune in for the pilot. However, “New Amsterdam” seems to have the goods to become an above average series thanks in part to a strong cast.
“New Amsterdam” follows a public hospital in New York City. A new medical director (Ryan Eggold) joins the staff and seeks to turn over a new leaf for the hospital. As a result, he begins to ask doctors for what they need. He pushes for outside the box thinking and new concepts to implement in the hospital. In this regard, it’s a pretty straightforward show.
However, the show thrives because of the enjoyability of watching the cast work. Eggold gives off some surprising charisma, even as he works through reasonably commonplace character beats in the show. His Dr. Goodwin character has the same workplace traits that have made so many doctors enjoyable on the small screen. He’s got a disease, he showcases workaholic tendencies, and he can’t work out his relationship. Eggold does a lot to imbue the character with small ticks, from the way he winks at people to his hurried speech, that makes him an enjoyable character to watch.
The rest of the cast features diverse and talented actors. This shows how the series might be more than it appears. One of the quick standouts is Anupam Khur best known to American audiences for his roles in “The Big Sick” and “Silver Linings Playbook” in the past five years. Khur, who has over 400 IMDb credits, shines in a supporting role here. Not many Indian actors get a real chance to showcase their talent on these shows, and Khur takes advantage by mixing stoic moments with surprisingly emotional beats.
Jocko Sims also brings the charisma in his scenes. He’s a buy the book doctor, but Sims livens up the fairly stale dialogue through sheer charisma. Janet Montgomery works well to bring out the other cast members while showcasing ambition in her role. Freema Agyeman could develop into something special over the course of the show, and does an excellent job with her one emotional scene in the 2nd episode. However, we can’t catch a real gauge on her performance so far. Tyler Labine does well to bring some levity to the series but also handle some theatrical moments. Fans of his from “Deadbeat” won’t find the pure comedy roots he showcased, but his range surprised me. The choice to have him handle the psychiatric side of the hospital pays off immediately.
As someone who watches a lot of medical dramas, this one feels special. There are likely to be a lot of critics who write this one off as too soapy or feel good to be anything special. “New Amsterdam” feels different. It features a diverse cast that puts women up front as the heroes in each of the first two episodes. Minority doctors take the spotlight, and actually, deliver an Indian born doctor in a subtle and emotional role. The white comic takes over a usually unexplored side of medicine in these dramas. It feels like there is something here. Stick with it; this could be a fun ride.