Proving it’s possible to construct an entire series out of strung-together medical-show cliches, “Saved” races along a too-familiar path littered with “ER”-style crises. At the same time, TNT’s latest operation also piles on less genre-specific chestnuts, like two former lovers still pining for each other or the guy who rebels against his powerful father by refusing to follow in his footsteps. Heck, there’s even a poker tie-in and “CSI”-style visual flourishes. All told, this look into the world of paramedics delivers a prescription for ennui.
As Wyatt Cole, Tom Everett Scott is saddled with all the aforementioned character traits, introduced as a semi-compulsive gambler who gets into a brawl and — like Jack Nicholson in “The Last Detail” — announces, “I am 911!” when his pugilistic companion starts bleeding profusely.
Wyatt is a hollow-eyed paramedic soullessly slogging through the mean streets of Portland (actually Vancouver), much to the chagrin of his doctor dad (David Clennon), who prods him toward returning to medical school. That was where he split from Alice (Elizabeth Reaser), an attractive M.D. whom he eyes as if she were a bowl of ice cream.
The poker playing and ambulance driving reflect Wyatt’s renegade lifestyle — a point he explains to his partner Sack (Omari Hardwick), who bears his own scars, as evidenced by the ex-wife who barely talks to him and young son who hardly knows him.
Paramedics do what doctors do, we’re told, only at 60 miles an hour, and series creator David Manson seeks to capture that sense of momentum with a rapid-fire series of encounters. None of them, however, proves terribly compelling, including the visual device of employing a barrage of snapshots to illustrate scenes in patients’ lives leading up the moment they fell ill.
Scott still has that boyish, young-man’s-Tom Hanks quality working for him (he was, after all, Hanks’ virtual surrogate in “That Thing You Do!”), but he’s ill-served by the tepid material, which somehow manages to make illicit sex in an ambulance strangely perfunctory and non-erotic. Proof again that youth is wasted on the young.
Beyond Scott, the cast barely registers, in part because they seem plucked out of “Ensemble Medical Drama” central casting, down to the loony guest stars.
TNT has enjoyed understandable success with “The Closer,” a crime procedural returning this month that dovetails nicely with the net’s “Law & Order”-and-basketball formula. By contrast, “Saved” (which launches commercial-free) doesn’t appear especially compatible with the existing lineup, having received scads of promotion during TNT’s NBA playoffs coverage even though its content should appeal primarily to women.
Of course, trying to formulate a series prognosis at 60 miles an hour is hazardous, but barring a sudden change of direction, a long run doesn’t look to be in the cards.