Review: ‘Birdland’

It's time for another primetime hospital stint, but "Birdland," specializing in psychiatric patients and headed by shambling Dr. Brian McKenzie (Brian Dennehy), seems unlikely to fill the bill. The opening chapter trots the characters out for show, but so far they're not that interesting.

It’s time for another primetime hospital stint, but “Birdland,” specializing in psychiatric patients and headed by shambling Dr. Brian McKenzie (Brian Dennehy), seems unlikely to fill the bill. The opening chapter trots the characters out for show, but so far they’re not that interesting.

McKenzie’s having a liaison with Dr. Jesse Lane (Lindsay Frost), but they don’t seem romantically suited. Dr. Bergman (John Rothman) runs the show, but it’s the thankless and tired role of a stern, crack-down administrator.

Jeff Williams plays Dr. Niles, who isn’t too swift; Leslie Mann is a nervous Nurse Mary, who may belong in a psychiatric ward, but not as a staffer.

McKenzie has plenty of free time to do as he likes. For this inning, his major case involves a youth (Scott Michael Campbell) who’s had a severe negative personality change in the past four months.

McKenzie takes time — when he’s not at the racetrack — to follow clues to the boy’s past. John Savage effectively plays the young man’s dad. Natasha Gregson Wagner, daughter of Natalie Wood, steps in briefly but tellingly as one of the boy’s associates from the past.

With a whole psychiatric ward to deal with, writers Walter F. Parkes and Scott Frank so far don’t find much drama at Riverside Hospital, Oakland.

Director Peter Horton doesn’t pull much conviction from the action, and the use of an irritating hospital accountant (Diana Bellamy) for comic relief was an error.

British Columbia location shots stand in well for Oakland, and Andrew Dintenfass’s camerawork is fine. Other tech credits are good. “Birdland,” supplanting hiatus-bound “Moon Over Miami,” should lighten up. After all, this isn’t “St. Elsewhere.”

By a long shot.

Birdland

Wed. (5), 10-11 p.m., ABC

Production

Filmed on location in British Columbia by Aerial Pictures and Columbia Pictures TV. Exec producers, Walter F. Parkes, Scott Frank, Laurie MacDonald-Parkes; co-exec producer, R.W. Goodwin; producer, Steve Beers; director, Peter Horton; writers-creators, Parkes, Frank.

Crew

Camera, Andrew Dintenfass; editor, Victor Dubois; art directors, Tracy Bousman, David Hiscox; sound, Mark R. Lapointe; music, uncredited.

Cast

Cast: Brian Dennehy, Lindsay Frost, John Rothman, Jeff Williams, Leslie Mann, CCH Pounder, John Savage, Kevin J. O'Connor, Tom Everett, David Packer, Scott Grimes, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Scott Michael Campbell, Diana Bellamy, Natasha Gregson Wagner, K Callan, Terry David Mulligan, Tony Pantages, Garwin Sanford, Corky Martin, Mark Hildreth, Alan C. Peterson, Douglas Edmonds, Glen Roald, Jim Smith, Murray Brisker, Wesley Holloway.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety

Loading