Filmed in Seattle by Lakeside Prods., Crystal Beach Entertainment and Warner Bros. TV. Executive producers, Rob Lieberman, Marilu Henner, Candace Farrell; co-executive producers, John J. Sakmar, Kerry Lenhart, Mike Pavone, Dave Alan Johnson, Douglas Steinberg; producer, Elliot Friedgen; director, Rob Lieberman; writers, Lenhart, Sakmar; Fox jumps into the nighttime medical drama fray with “Medicine Ball,” an unimaginative entry into well-trod fare. Despite striving to emulate the strong writing and plotlines of shows like “St. Elsewhere,” the new Fox series unintentionally lands more closely to the sitcom “House Calls.”
“Medicine” also clearly hopes to take advantage of the popularity of recent web hits “ER” and “Chicago Hope” while using attractive, angst-filled characters like those that grace the weblet’s “Melrose Place” and “Models Inc.”
Scripters Kerry Lenhart and John Sakmar fill the series’ bow with double-entendres, the requisite medical vernacular and patient histrionics, as well as sexual tension among the staff of the fictitious Bayview Medical Center.
The writers also demonstrate, perhaps unintentionally, their fondness for their show’s predecessors in the genre, as there are striking similarities to characters in other recent series and in skeins that reach as far back as “The Bold Ones.”
Vignettes in the sleepy bow include the story of a 42-year-old man who elects to undergo a circumcision and holds a bris in his hospital room, which provides the show’s comedy relief; a misdiagnosis of a young boy, for the emotional tug; and a first-day resident losing his first patient and being unable to tell the family, in a seg designed to humanize the caregivers.
Director Rob Lieberman keeps the action brisk, using Steadicam shots and MTV and FBC trademarked stylistics to telegraph the urgency of the hospital setting. But his efforts add little to the stale writing and lack of interesting or original characters.
Standouts are Harrison Pruett, as a no-nonsense resident, who delivers impossibly hokey lines with a semblance of believability; and Jeffrey Samms, as the doctor who rides herd over the residents.
While show closing features hunk doctor Tom Powell (Vincent Ventresca) blowing a jazz riff on his sax at a local club, the playing of “Taps” would probably have been more appropriate, as this series is DOA.