I’d been excitedly awaiting the screening of Off the Map – the latest medical drama from Shonda Rhimes – since I heard about it last year, but it’s taken me a while to form an opinion on it.
The first four episodes were a bit bland and the characters are exactly what you’d expect. There is the McDreamy/George Clooney equivalent, Dr Ben Keeton (who I think has brooding Carter qualities from those later ER episodes) then there’s his easily identifiable love interest Dr Lily Brenner (who just lacks something) and the hot underdog of the pack Dr. Tommy Fuller.
The picturesque scenery is pretty cool, but the story lines have been a bit weak – they tend to follow a tried and tested formula along the lines of “we’ve got a patient with some weird tropical disease/a jungle creature attached to or inside them/trapped in an awkward situation”. They’re then taken to the ropey clinic and the doctors generally save them. Often the language barrier will fuel a misdiagnosis, however, its predictability is rather comforting, and I think it has potential – that said, I haven’t felt compelled to write about it until I hit the top fifth episode, and that’s only because I thought it went a bit far, even for a medical drama.
In “I’m here” a scuba diving trip goes wrong, and the doctors head out to sea to save a teenage girl who has been trapped under water following a rock slide – her leg is caught between the rocks, the crane is too far away and she’s suffered a collapsed lung, so what do they do? An impromptu amputation of course…
Now, as a medical drama fan I’m used to a bit of blood and guts, but having to watch Dr Keeton use what looked like a long string of barded wire to cut through the poor girl’s leg was just a bit much. And then to see her be lifted to the surface, minus the end of her leg, in a pool of bright red water was just unnecessarily graphic.
I felt it made Off the Map look a bit desperate, ER and Grey’s Anatomy never resorted to stomach churning shock tactics of this level to keep their viewers amused. I remember Carter had to perform an amputation at the scene of a train crash once, but I don’t think we ever had to see the inside of patient’s leg.
I shall keep watching, but Off the Map, if you want to hold my attention I think we’ll need some entertaining love triangles pretty soon.