A lifetime filled with formulaic medical shows has left me avoiding the genre like malaria. But after hearing Neal Baer discuss "A Gifted Man" at TCA press tour Wednesday, I'm willing to give this CBS series a chance.
The "Gifted" executive producer began his TV career on NBC's long-running "ER," but he made clear he plans to steer clear of rehashing similar territory even as he gives this well-worn genre another go.
"This show will take us to places you haven't been before in a medical series," Baer promised.
Though the show seems to be marketed as a romantic drama with a supernatural twist, "Gifted" will offer a topical take on American health-care issues. The show's setting will move back and forth between the high-toned world of concierge medicine in which star Patrick Wilson's character operates and the gritty environs of the free clinic inhabited by his ex-wife (Jennifer Ehle) who returns to his life after a 10-year absence.
"It's the first show of his kind to show the 'Upstairs/Downstairs' of medicine," said Baer, who pledged to explore the issues that affect the 50-60 million Americans who don't have health care.
"Gifted" will also present an opportunity for Baer to explore the distinctly un-"ER" world of alternative medicine, and how it intersects with issues of faith and ethics.
But Baer did liken "ER" to "Gifted" in one crucial regard: its leading man. Baer cited the NBC drama's first hunk-in-residence, George Clooney, to Wilson. If the actor can bring even half the appeal that the man who went on to become one of Hollywood's reigning eminences, "Gifted" just might be the Rx for CBS viewers.