Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 7/23/08

Let’s start at the end of the evening, shall we…with GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT (no relation to this column). I’ll say this for the season two premiere: It packed more soap tropes into its hour than the mothership manages in a week. Last night we saw complicated relationships among family and friends, rivalries, love affairs, frustrated romance, dudes without shirts and babes in bras, old favorites, recasts and new characters — even the death of a recurring character! And there was actual hospital stuff. What NS lacked, I didn’t miss: There were no mobsters, no one was murdered and no children were shot. 

I thought the new characters could have been introduced in a more appealing manner. Claire was introduced stripping down after a failed date and traded barbs with newbie Kyle. It felt like NS wanted to establish Claire and Kyle as businesslike and competent, but they just seemed bitchy. How about trying to make us like characters on first blush? In addition to recasting Dr. Leo Julian (the character is now played by Ethan Raines, the brother of former portrayer Dominic), the character was reimagined from laid-back dude to snippy and somewhat sarcastic and dictatorial. Y’know, the way disgusted attendings usually treat interns on medical shows. And why — why — would the chief of staff remove a shard of glass from his own neck? I’m no doctor, but I know from watching medical shows that you don’t blindly yank the foreign object out of a puncture wound, because it acts like a plug. Sheesh! 

On the plus side: the returns of Billy Dee Williams‘ Toussaint and Antonio Sabato Jr.‘s Jagger. Jagger’s first tenure was waaaay before my time, so I’m intrigued to learn more about Robin’s relationship with her “incredibly dear old friend.” Dr. Scorpio also got a sudden old friend from medical school in the form of Dr. Saira Batra, the first Indian-American doctor in GH history. (It would have been better if she were portrayed by an Indian actress, but…baby steps.) I already know I won’t like her mystical-magical holistic philosophy, but that’s just the way the character is written. How else to strike sparks with hotshot surgeon Leo? (BTW, why is Leo suddenly such a prude? The co-ed locker room has been a fixture for many months; he should be used to the sight of panties by now.) 

I did like the new hospital set, but NS seriously needs to invest in a couple of beds. Or at least one, then keep redressing it so multiple characters can pretend they don’t all sleep and have sex on couches. In fact, instead of kicking off with Robin and Patrick getting dirty in the shower, this season began with the impending parents basking in the afterglow — on her couch. Then they bickered like an old married couple about shopping for a new couch. Excuse me, folks, but how about buying abed

Was the debut perfect? Of course not, but it was promising, and achieved its goal of being intriguing enough to make me tune in next week. I’m hoping for a duet between Toussaint and Dr. Noah Drake, but I’m not holding my breath. 

I finally managed to watch an entire DEADLIEST CATCH on Discovery Channel — just in time for the season finale. I’ve caught bits and pieces of the series (now in its fourth season) and I was instantly hooked. (Sorry…I’ll stop with the fishy puns. I mean…oh, never mind.) This highly addictive series follows the fortunes of a fleet of boats trawling the Bering Sea for king crabs. It’s alarmingly dangerous work, with serious injury almost a certainty amid all the dangerous gear and astonishingly bad weather. One guy shattered his pelvis in a fall from a ladder and the crew repaired him aboard the ship with wires and screws…as if he were some balky piece of equipment. Last night, the guys were chipping ice off the boats with mallets and jackhammers — which was disconcerting to watch while enduring the East Coast’s recent heat wave. The minus-5-degree water looked almost inviting! I couldn’t help wondering why only king crab are captured in the pots (Does anyone out there know the secret?), and it seemed a little suspicious that so many of the crews met their quota on the last day of the season (in one case, their very last pot put them over the top); the drama seemed a little too convenient. In return for four months of wet, frozen hell, each crew member received between $47,000 and $68,000 — depending on the boat’s haul. Almost seems worth it. Almost. But then, a grim coda to the finale noted that a different fishing vessel sank with all hands aboard, and five men actually died. 

The all-too-brief RESCUE ME minisode on FX cast usually dim-witted Mikey as a spelling savant who won bets with the boys by spelling words like plethora andasthma. In a classic psyche-out, though, Lou tripped him up by challenging Mikey to spell his own name. After last week’s harrowing flashback to Sept. 11 with a living, breathing Jimmy, last night’s lark was welcome comic relief. 

After that five-minute interlude, I was flipping channels when I suddenly spotted the incredibly beautiful BATTLESTAR GALACTICA babe Grace Park (Sharon/Boomer/Athena), which reminded me that her new show, THE CLEANER, was on A&E. Her character, Akani, is part of some kind of team that helps detox drug users — think of a sort of a really aggressive intervention. Only Benjamin Bratt‘s William and his team don’t surprise you at your home, they use surveillance techniques to track you down. This “extreme intervention” team is supposed to be based on real people, but William comes across as more smug than world-weary, and he sounds like he’s preaching rather than offering advice. “I’m the role model?” William asks at one point. “That can’t be good.” It’s not. 

But it would be good for you to come back for the next installment of Joe Diliberto: Night Shift…um, I mean, er, Night Shift

Originally posted on Soap Opera Weekly.com

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