The Night Shift, NBC's drama about ER doctors working overnights in a cash-strapped Texas hospital, was a surprise hit last summer and now it's back for a full run in the Monday 10pm slot previously occupied by State of Affairs.
A large number of the show's main characters are veterans, doctors and medics who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and are in the process of reintegrating into civilian life. Those experiences are central to The Night Shift's plot lines and the action often feels more like M*A*S*H than ER, something we discussed in an interview with the show's creators Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs last year.
We've got a clip from the new season below:
Three of the lead doctors (Dr. TC Callahan, played by Eoin Macken; Dr. Toper Zia, played by Ken Leung; and Dr. Drew Alister, played by Brendan Fehr) are all veterans. Callahan and Zia served together and Alister has finally revealed his secret relationship with Captain Rick Lincoln (played by Luke Macfarlane) after Lincoln loses a leg when the bus bringing him home to San Antonio wrecks. Callahan has a previous relationship with Dr. Jill Alexander (played by Jill Flint), a fellow doctor who's now in a relationship with Dr. Scott Clemmens (Scott Wolf) who's moved to San Antonio to be with her. Except she still loves Callahan, which prompts the confrontation in the above clip.
That's all very soapy, but the season 2 uses Rick's injuries to introduce a plot line about Alister's difficulties in getting an appointment for his partner at the VA Hospital. Callahan (who's on suspension after a meltdown at the end of season 1) is volunteering as an EMT when he discovers that a fellow veteran is suffering from a life-threatening lung condition and the VA backlog is going to prevent her from getting the surgery she needs.
There's a new doctor this season who's an Air Force veteran who's into yoga and presents himself as a guy who's past all the difficulties in coming home (Dr. Joey Chavez, played by Adam Rodriguez from CSI: Miami). There's also an incredible amount of blood to interest anyone not attracted to the love stuff: there's a married coupled impaled on the same piece of rebar, a father almost cut in two by a rogue elevator and incredibly graphic open heart surgery.
The Night Shift gets The Voice as its lead-in and will have a real shot to establish itself as a long-running series. It's been a while since there's been a successful hospital drama on TV and here's a show that treats the experiences of military veterans as something that mainstream Americans should know about. That alone makes it worth a look.