Review: ‘L.A. Doctors’

Can CBS coax America into feeling empathy for four clean-scrubbed, lily-white doctors who drive Mercedes-Benzes and score floor seats to Lakers games?

Can CBS coax America into feeling empathy for four clean-scrubbed, lily-white doctors who drive Mercedes-Benzes and score floor seats to Lakers games? In the overwrought, underthought “L.A. Doctors,” the self-righteous medical crusaders struggle with their consciences after seeing too many patients and try to pass themselves off as tortured souls, but they’re far too busy saving the world from assembly-line managed care to recognize the irony.

Doctors Roger Cattan (“thirtysomething’s” Ken Olin), Tim Lonner (Matt Craven) and Evan Newman (Rick Roberts) have ditched their spirit-sapping practices and joined forces, opening an office with weird decor.

Slashing the red tape, these men now treat “the soul as well as the sick,” which is to say they show up unan-nounced at patient homes and perform what might be called open heartache surgery.

They do it in the bathos-rich opener, penned by John Lee Hancock, at the residences of a pregnant teenage girl and of an old man dying of cancer.

Meanwhile, the guys recruit a woman (“Twin Peaks” alumna Sheryl Lee) to be part of their holier-than-thou fraternity. She’s an admitted workaholic, making her perfect. She can stay. And as a bonus, she may even have a fling with the brooding, hypersensitive, single dad of this trio (Roberts).

The docs appear to have confused the acronym HMO to mean Hear My Outrage. Between all of the blather about “treating patients ahead of diseases” and admitting that their whiteness makes this yappy little group “a politically correct petting zoo,” precious little medicine actually gets practiced in “L.A. Doctors.”

Whereas the heroes of “E.R.” struggle to save victims from gunshot wounds and the odd burst appendix, on “L.A. Docs,” they dig in and heal ailing ethics. The hours are much better, and there’s not nearly as much blood.

With Hancock’s long-winded dialogue and helmer Gary Fleder’s dark, moody atmospherics, this looks at the outset to be a show about rescuing egos rather than saving lives.

Tech credits are ambitious but inconsistent.

L.A. Doctors

Medical drama; CBS, Mon., Sept. 21; 10 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by CBS Prods. in association with Columbia TriStar TV. Executive producers, Mark Johnson, John Lee Hancock, Michelle Ashford; co-executive producer, Scott Brazil; producer, Elizabeth Cantillon; director, Gary Fleder; writer, Hancock.

Cast

Dr. Roger Cattan - Ken Olin Dr. Tim Lonner - Matt Craven Dr. Evan Newman - Rick Roberts Dr. Sarah Church - Sheryl Lee Nathan Newman - Joseph Ashton Patrick Owen - Coby Bell Susan Blum - Deirdre O'Connell Kelly Newman - Rebecca Rigg Felicity - Melora Walters
Production designer, Richard Toyon; set decorator, Michele Poulik; camera, Reynaldo Villalobos; editors, Armen Minasian, Bob Ducsay; music, Jeff Beal; sound, Joseph Geisinger; casting, Rick Pagano, Debi Manwiller. 60 MINS.

With: Talia Balsam, Anna Maria Horsford, Lonny Chapman, Brittany Paige Bouck, Dennis Creaghan, Nikita Ager, Helen Sullivan Vogel, Aleksandra Kaniak, David Dunard, Joyce Guy, Robin Frates Corbett, Ronny Graham, Allen Williams, Dianna Miranda, David Stratton, Erica Jimenez, Vanessa Jimenez.
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