Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter TCA 2013: Monday Mornings

After Cougar Town, the next big panel of the first full day of TCA this cycle was TNT's Monday Mornings, a medical drama that’s based on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s book. You may know Gupta, a neurosurgeon, as the CNN chief medical correspondent. Many of the situations and cases in the series are based on real-life scenarios that Gupta has witnessed or experienced.  

What makes Chelsea General (set in Portland, Oregon) different from other medical shows is the weekly focus on the mistakes (whether due to negligence, narrow-mindedness, or bravado) that have been made and how the staff can learn from them. These “morbidity and mortality conferences” feature the doctors reviewing one another’s work and are the basis for the drama’s title.   

Ten episodes have been shot at this point, and the pilot features a couple of patients whose ailments turn out to be much more complicated than they initially seem (like a brain aneurysm originally disguised as an attempted suicide).

Panelists include Executive Producers Bill D’Elia, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and David E. Kelley, as well as actors Emily Swallow, Sarayu Rao, Keong Sim, Bill Irwin, Jennifer Finnigan, Jamie Bamber, Ving Rhames, and Alfred Molina. Some of the major characters on the show are Dr. Jorge Villanueva (Rhames), the most celebrated trauma chief in the country, Dr. Tina Ridgeway (Finnigan), a compassionate neurosurgeon with turmoil at home, Dr. Buck Tierney (Irwin), the least-liked member of the staff, and Dr. Michelle Robidaux (Swallow), an inexperienced resident. 
Martin Schoeller
Highlights from the Q&A include: 
Will the show be mainly single-episode procedurals or will there be longer stories? Kelley explains that there are long arcs and some cases will take place over several episodes, though each episode in and of itself should feel somewhat self-contained. 

Are those meetings real? Gupta says yes and talks about how much he learned from those meetings about doctors holding one another accountable. It really makes you as good as you can be. 

How do trauma surgeons see themselves? They’re the front line and have to know a lot about many different things, especially as they don’t have the advantage of working with how things behave under normal conditions. 

Molina names the most dramatic scene so far to be where his character and another are having a drink and he is asked about the troubles with being in administration. 

Kelley talked about how he initially worried that the meetings wouldn’t work forever, but they’ve turned into the staple of each and every episode. 

Gupta takes on a large role as an executive producer, and Kelley wouldn’t have it any other way. One thing he’s done for the show? Explained how to clip an aneurysm. 

The series will premiere on Monday, February 4th at 10pm ET/PT on TNT, just after the second season of Dallas airs.
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