MILE HIGH MEDICAL
Written By: Jennie Snyder Urman
Draft Date: December 22, 2011
If you ever watched Grey's Anatomy (particularly the pilot) and thought "this is just too subtle for me" and "gosh, I wish Meredith had a lot more voiceover" and "that Meredith is just too put together, I wish she were more neurotic," then Mile High Medical is for you.
Emily Barnes was not a popular girl in high school. She was insecure and lacked confidence. Now she's a surgical intern starting her first year at Denver Memorial Hospital and she is still insecure and lacks confidence. So much so that she yells at a frizzy-haired high school girl who she kind of creepily watches before walking into her first day (because the high school is across the street from the hospital, naturally) because the girl called her a loser.
Honey. You're a mess.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for flawed characters. I prefer them, really. But Emily comes off as so needy and pathetic that it's a major problem for me (also a major problem: her pervasive voiceover where she spells out her thoughts and/or the subtext of everything, i.e. "He's touching you. Do not spaz out. Do not. Spaz. Out" or, when a patient starts to code she yells "I need a doctor!" is told she is a doctor, and then thinks "A real doctor! Get a real doctor!" WE GET IT). Her one saving grace is her super ability to have bedside manner. But it doesn't really help her escape the bottomless pitiable pit she's jumped into. And this is the show's lead?
The show seems to make the point that we don't grow up. We are all the children/teenagers/whatever we always were, just trying to ignore the fact that we're older and still the same. I get it. I just don't want to watch it.
The other interns:
- Cassandra Kopelson. She's the mean girl who made Emily's high school life hell and just happens to also be starting the internship program. Neither Emily nor Cassandra seem to be able to let certain elements of high school go. Tell me if you've heard this one before... hospitals are like high school. Seriously. Seriously! Pretty sure the hospital departments as different high school cliques was in the Grey's pilot (even if the various departments were labelled differently). Seriously. But that phrase is repeated so often and so verbatim that I actually think Denver Memorial is more akin to kindergarten than high school. Now, of course, Cassandra has some hidden damage that Emily wasn't aware of... but she's still that mean girl you wished would get run over by a bus. And wouldn't you know it, she seems to be romantic rivals with Emily for...
- Will Rider. Charming, went to med school with Emily. Emily spends approximately every waking moment lusting after him, and even has a heavy-handed metaphor-patient in the form of a 12-year old girl who talking about Twilight (hmmm, maybe Emily is cut from the same cloth as Bella... that would explain some of my frustration with her) is also dealing with the issue of being too worried about rejection to ask the cute boy out. It goes better for the patient than it does for Emily, who overshares in her startling confession to Will, and then is treated to the most on-the-nose rejection I think I've ever seen: "I'm so sorry. I just don't see you like that. But I'm so touched by what you said, I really am. And I hope that we can still be friends, because I really value your friendship." I have no doubt that passage has been uttered in real life. But, come on. That's the first draft cardboard dialogue block you write when you just need to power through the vomit draft and you're going to come back and write something more specific to the character and not nearly so cut-and-dry.
- Tyra Granger, who has very little to do in the pilot except explicitly tell Emily on the first moment of their meeting that she is the Chief of Surgery's daughter and a lesbian. Which would be fine if Tyra were at all presented as out-and-proud (it turns out she isn't actually out to her dad). She kind of disappears (since she and Emily don't share a medical case in the pilot). The Chief, for his part, has a long-winded speech and also basically disappears
Then there's the interns' resident, Micah, who we're clearly supposed to believe will eventually be Emily's love interest post-Will rejection. His mother is dying of pancreatic cancer. And, of course, the hard-nosed, famous-within-the-world-of-the-story attending surgeon Gina, who has terrible bedside manner and whom Emily must prove herself to if she hopes to survive.
You know what this show is. Interns struggling to survive (although if I read the times indicated on the slug lines correctly, the first shift was a whopping 10 hours from 8AM to 6PM... and I totally buy that a patient who needs her heart reconstructed can be closed up and awake and texting 65 minutes later, so, thanks for the specificity). Being competitors, friends, rivals, and lovers. And patients and surgeries reflecting on the characters' personal journeys.
I'm not saying the Grey's formula can't be done ever again, but... come on. Who are we kidding with this one, folks. At least try and make it a little different.