Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pilot Script Review - Weekends at Bellevue

Network: FOX
Written By: Lisa Zwerling
Draft Date: January 12, 2011
Pages: 63

Apologies, this is the first script review from this season that I read and didn't almost-immediately do a write up. It's been a while, so details are fuzzy and I'm trying to look over the script again to make sure I'm not misrepresenting it.

The short of my opinion is that I just didn't care for it on the page. I know several people who are big fans of this script, so I've been scratching my head thinking "what are they reading/seeing that I'm not?" Part of it might be casting. As I've said before... I try my best to not pay any attention to that until I actually get to see the pilot screener.

This show exists somewhere in between House and Grey's Anatomy. Very much a character piece for the lead, Ellie Harlow, a doctor with a dark past and issues of her own still to deal with (which are vaguely suicidal), and a hospital-set ensemble-soap. The title says what we'll be watching... the weekend shift at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, replete with hospital bureaucracy and checkered emotional baggage between characters.

From a medical case perspective, the show insists that anything and everything will be fair game. "Mental illness is everywhere, in every specialty. When you’re a psychiatrist, absolutely everyone needs you." People have different tactics, of course, and will butt heads.

At least, here, with (several of) the characters actually being psychiatrists, it won't be so odd to see them psycho-analyze each other on a regular basis (COUGH House COUGH).

There was a very confusing thing the script did in playing with time. Ellie jumps off a moving yacht in the East River in the opening (in the present) and it's kinda-sorta connected to an incident 9 years prior when she fell from a boat in Lake Michigan and almost died in the wake of not being able to deal with the suicide of her mother. It eventually connects, but I swear, when the Lake Michigan / flashback part appeared about 25 pages in, I was thrown and had to look back (several times) to see if I'd missed something.

I think my issue with this show is, simply, that it feels done to death already and I'm not convinced I want to tune back in to see Ellie's misadventures with the rest of the Bellevue gang. The only vaguely new aspect to it, versus Grey's or House (which, despite declines in popularity over time, are still the two biggest medical shows currently on TV), is the focus on psychiatry... but we've seen psychiatrists on TV for a long, long time, both in emergency medicine context and in personal therapy sessions.

So, shrug. Again, this script has fans (at least in my personal circle). So, I reserve the right, as always, to change my opinion when I see how it filmed. As I've said before, I like being the one who had the lack of vision instead of being the one who was right that something wasn't good. I'd rather there be more good television than be right about an old version of a script.

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