TV Review: ‘Heartbeat’

Heartbeat TV Review NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Melissa George’s pregnancy prompted NBC to reschedule “Heartbeat” from the fall to midseason, but the intervening months haven’t helped this medical drama find much of a pulse. Although derived from a book by a real-life heart surgeon, the series plays like a rather pallid “Grey’s Anatomy” knockoff, featuring another doctor who cares desperately about her patients, runs roughshod over subordinates and bosses alike, and walks and talks very, very fast.

If Kathy Magliato’s book was built, in part, around how cardiac surgery remains a largely male bastion, there are enough brilliant female doctors patrolling the halls of TV to make George’s Dr. Alexandra Panttiere feel a little less special. The day-to-day pressures of the hospital, meanwhile, share time with a sort-of romantic triangle, involving Alex’s relationship with her dreamy doc boyfriend (Dave Annable) and the surgical mentor (Don Hany) who suddenly shows up, unleashing a lot of pained expressions and dreary flashbacks.

Of course, Alex’s juggling act doesn’t end there. She’s also raising two kids she had with her ex-husband (Joshua Leonard), a rock star who left her for another man. Mostly, though, Alex does all she can to drive her boss (Shelley Conn) crazy, being so committed to her patients that she has no time for niceties or rules. (She can, however, rock a slinky blue dress when the situation calls for it in order to woo big-money benefactors.)

Showcased more effectively in NBC’s recent ensemble drama “The Slap,” George is an appealing actress, but she’s not only asked to shoulder too much of the weight here, but also saddled with dialogue like, “My patient is dying. I want that heart!” In addition, there are some questionable choices in the surrounding staff, including another doctor (Jamie Kennedy) so politically incorrect that he refers to Alex’s Asian nurse (Maya Erskine) as “Ping Pang Pong,” which everyone just laughs off.

Created by Jill Gordon, with a pilot directed by Robbie Duncan McNeill, the procedural elements don’t really improve in subsequent episodes, which include medical issues that arise endangering the lives of a pair of conjoined twins. Historically, when writers resort to devices like that in the first three episodes, it’s seldom a good sign.

Granted, some very undemanding medical dramas have performed passably well of late, including NBC’s “The Night Shift” and “Chicago Med,” and CBS’ “Code Black.” Although healthcare remains a political hot button, TV’s formula for caring doctors hasn’t really changed that much since “Dr. Kildare” and “Marcus Welby M.D.”

Yet even grading based on that chart, “Heartbeat” seems about as necessary as an appendix — more of a faint murmur, dramatically speaking, than anything you can dance to.

TV Review: 'Heartbeat'

(Series; NBC, Tues. March 22, 9 p.m.)


Filmed in Los Angeles by PD Oliver Inc., Molly Bloom Prods. and Reveal in association with Universal Television.


Executive Producers, Jill Gordon, Amy Brenneman, Brad Silberling, Mark B. Perry, Jennifer Cecil; co-executive producers, Allison Liddi-Brown, Dr. Kathy Magliato, Susan Carlson, Eric Carlson, Kelly Meyer; producers, Yolonda Lawrence, Cary Jones, Susie Schelling; director, Robbie Duncan McNeill; writer, Gordon; based on the book “Heart Matters” by Magliato; camera, Scott Williams; production designer, Ricardo Spinace; editor, Dana Congdon; music, John Ehrlich; casting, Jeanie Bacharach, Maggie Bacharach. 60 MIN.


Melissa George, Dave Annable, Don Hany, Shelley Conn, Joshua Leonard, Maya Erskine, D.L. Hughley, Jamie Kennedy, JLouis Mills

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  1. JENNIFER says:


    • Mary Kay says:

      I’ve seen all those Med Shows and Heartbeat is much better than all the rest! Loved the romance and how much MELISSA George loved her patients.
      The links she would go to to help them. I am really disappointed in NBC. I thought that NBC had finally found a great show for a change. Very sad …

  2. Jo says:

    This is a bad show that has many medical inaccuracys and is absoutley disgusts me. It its so disgusting the way there is not respect given for the beautiful organ donors, in fact a total disrespect. Appalling and outraging. I’m disgusted and offended.

  3. Diane biedrzycka says:

    I disagree with the critics review of Heartbeat. Although it is sometimes corney and overblow, it still resonates with the everyday heartstrings of America!! A show well worth my time in watching!! I say ‘KEEP IT!!’

  4. Ginger says:

    Heartbeat is a wonderful show. The actors are fantastic and the show is most engaging. There are so many shows that should be cancelled BUT NOT THIS ONE!

  5. Heather says:

    I am so pissed about this. I was really getting into this show. I really believe they should give it another season to see if it picks up viewers. It really makes me mad, that they bring these interesting shows on and you get into them, then they drop them. It truly isn’t right.

  6. Soukour says:

    hi, i love this serie, it’s like Grey’s Anatomy ;
    this two series (grey’s and heartbreat) are in my top best 5 series;

    excellent work ;)

  7. Carol Hicks says:

    Out of all the new shows I tried to get into
    Heartbeat is the only one that was inspiring and lighthearted with likable characters!
    Castle was another fav of mine along eith Rizolli and Isles to give you an idea of where Im comming from!
    Ive had it with the cancelations and I have been on the verge of cutting the cord my mind is now made up…Im canceling them and going antenae
    to continue watching what favs I have left along with my friends and family who also feel the same way!!! Ther is enough sadness and violence in real life and I for one refuse to pay and be inflikted in my own home…NO THANKS…

  8. I love this show. Alex is spunky, sassy and dedicated. The love triangle just adds to the story. You can feel the tension between Alex and Jesse knowing they’re in love with each other. Her boyfriend is a dud as far as I’m concerned. Hope it stays on.

  9. bridget neely says:

    I am a giant of this show, and was from the first episode! I’m rating it as the new Greys Anatomy! GOLD

  10. JEAN SHAW says:


  11. DaveC310 says:

    The show had promise, but it’s trying way too hard to be quirky and different. Her ex-husband is a gay rock star who’s now her best friend? Really? That idea shouldn’t have made it out of the writers room.

  12. I love this show. Melissa George is excellent in it.

  13. nance says:

    Aside from this show trying to do way too much, I have a huge problem trying to understand what some of the men in the cast are saying. Don Hany especially is unintelligible; I have yet to hear or decipher even one of his lines in its entirety. Dave Annable is almost as bad.

    And as for the hashtagger below, I’m not entirely on board with Alex’s #feminism if she needs validation from a former lover/mentor in order to move forward in her love life and her professional life. #justsaying

  14. Sarah says:

    I actually love this series so far. Watched the first 3 episodes and want to watch more!

  15. My problem is with the scenes that are utterly ludicrous.. Hitting a golf ball in a hospital? Having a session with a shrink in a cafeteria or wherever that was..( not a private office). Let’s just get a little bit real….

  16. The Night Shift is a far more superior series, but it seems to have disappeared, your review is spot on, i wonder if NBC will surprise us all by NOT cancelling this show, they urgently need new script writers.

  17. Marquita M Miller says:

    So we’re just gonna ignore “Just stand there and be beige.”
    That one made me cringe.

  18. LB Brenna says:

    I couldn’t make it past 90 seconds after the first commercial break. I liked Melissa George in both versions of “The Slap”. Upon reflection, that character irritated me so much, I now realize how good the performance was. I feel so sorry for her having to be in this unfortunate piece of fluff, that it makes me depressed. It so conventional – I don’t have time for it.

  19. Patty Haley says:

    Whoever believed that this piece of crap with unbelievably bad dialogue to the point that you think that it’s a parody of every medical TV series –then compounded it by adding every cliche and stereotype that they could include in a series to either hit every demographic or make it offensive. Not sure which. I can’t believe that any TV executive decided that Heartbeat was a good idea.

    • Carol says:

      I’ve watched two episodes and it’s EXCELLENT! Well written, moving, and intelligent…romantic, funny, serious, and heartfelt all the way.

      • GG says:

        I LOVE THE SHOW SO FAR!!!! I have worked in the medical field for more than 20 years now and the TV series does not have to be another ER….it my not be accurate and stretches a little but it is for entertainment and it has kept me wanting more each time I watch it. It beats all the reality shows and overrated talent shows that are on so much lately. If you don’t want to watch…don’t…they will remove it, but if you like it please watch every Wednesday

  20. Deborah says:

    I love this show!
    # feminism

  21. Dusntan says:

    Listen. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of traditional network TV taking its final breaths. There isn’t a single well-crafted one-hour show left on network TV and this one isn’t going to alter that. In fact, it may hasten its death.

    • gregc says:

      No single well crafted one hour show left? How about _Madam Secretary_, _The Good Wife_, or _Elementary_? Or even _The Blacklist_, _Blidespot_, or _Castle_?

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