Under the Radar

'The Night Shift' Expands Its Military Themes in Season 4

The Night Shift is back for a fourth summer season on NBC, airing at Thursdays at 10pm ET/PT. Set in the trauma unit of a San Antonio hospital, the staff includes a surprisingly large number of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Back in 2014 when the series launched, creators Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs spoke to us about the military and veteran transition themes they wanted to explore on the show. Back then, the characters' military service was more of a personality trait (like having a tattoo or owning a motorcycle or collecting stamps) but, over the course of the show's life, they've managed to turn The Night Shift into the show they aspired to make.

That doesn't mean it's not still soapy as hell. In fact, it's so soapy that the show has become a huge hit in Latin America, the world's greatest market for melodrama. I visited the set last week on Latin American media day and got a sense of how big the show is in some of these countries. The reporters reacted like they were getting to hang out on the set of Friends at its peak.

Of course, this is good for American viewers because that success has allowed the show to pursue the veterans concerns that are closest to its heart. As season four begins, Dr. TC Callahan (Eoin Macken) is still in Syria's war zone on a medical mission and the hospital back home in San Antonio is in chaos after new management fired Dr. Christopher “Topher” Zia (Ken Leung) at the end of season three.

Check out the opening scenes from the first episode:

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While on set, I had a chance to meet with the show's military advisor Toby Montoya. His journey to that role is a fascinating and inspiring story and we'll run an interview with him later in the season.

We also talked to Brendan Fehr about his role as Dr. Drew Alister. This season we learn about the incident in Afghanistan that inspired him to go to med school and transition from Army medic to doctor. Former Army Ranger Josh Kelly guest stars as a politician who served with Drew and his appearance at the hospital inspires a few flashbacks. Brendan discussed his character's growth and Drew's significance to the LGBTQ community. Look for that interview the week that Dr. Drew's big episode airs.

The first three seasons of The Night Shift are all streaming on Netflix, so you can catch up with a weekend binge if you've never seen the show before.

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