Filmed in San Francisco and Los Angeles by Gerber/ITC Entertainment Group in association with CBS Entertainment Prods. Executive producer, David Gerber; producer, Vanessa Greene; director, Jack Bender; writer, Gerald DiPego, based on the novel by Sidney Sheldon; camera, Ron Orieux; editor, Mark Melnick; production designer, Dianne Millet; art director, Christopher De Muri; sound, Steven C. Laneri; music, Lee Holdridge. TX:Cast: Gail O’Grady, Brooke Shields, Vanessa Williams, Gregory Harrison, Stephen Caffrey, Chris Noth, Meshach Taylor, Saul Rubinek, Denis Arndt, Mary Carver, Dakin Matthews, Fernando Lopez, TJ Lowther, Lloyd Bridges, Gerald McRaney, Michael Flynn, Leo Geter, Thomas Duffy, Liliana Cabal, Thorsten Kaye, Kim McNulty, Michael Mitz, Laura Owens, Henry Sanders, Scott Wilkinson. Scribe Gerald DiPego deftly taps a rich source of tawdry encounters and strained relationships that, save for the occasional vacuous perf, will likely keep even non-devotees of author Sidney Sheldon’s published works tuned in to every minute of this four-hour miniseries. Backdropped by the inner workings of a busy county hospital in San Francisco, telefilm centers on the trials and tribulations of a triumvirate of medical residents struggling with the pressures of the job who are far from saints in surgical garb. They fear the exposition of the skeletons in their respective closets.
Story centers on Beth (Brooke Shields), Kat (Vanessa Williams) and Paige (Gail O’Grady), a trio of roommates who are portrayed as both brilliant and disciplined.
Paige, as a heart specialist in training under world-renowned surgeon Dr. Lawrence Barker (Gerald McRaney), puts her budding career on the line when she assists in the suicide of a terminally ill cancer patient (Lloyd Bridges).
She’s accused of murder after the investigation into the patient’s death reveals he changed his will and left her more than $ 2 million, presumably as a reward for her compassion during treatment.
Although the motive angle is one of show’s weakest plot lines — Paige’s boyfriend Jason (Stephen Caffrey) is a struggling architect on the verge of filing for bankruptcy — it’s used through-out to articulate Paige’s views that the medical profession focuses on avoiding lawsuits over patient comfort. Her character is afforded an opportunity to challenge the status quo, producing dramatic confrontations with her colleagues and superiors.
As Beth, the promiscuous daughter of a well-known surgeon, Shields is working overtime to shed her goody-two-shoes image.
Her character has a number of secret sexual trysts with several of the hospital’s senior staffers, including the requisite encounter with its chief administrator, Benjamin Wallace (Gregory Harrison).
Of all the Shields liaisons, this one makes for a particularly vitriolic pairing, with the on-screen chemistry between the two among the show’s most believable conflicts.
But Shields’ skills rarely hover above adequate as the emotionally stifled medico. Some hokey dialogue and her pasted-on facial expression also damage her credibility. Shields is further tested, as her Beth, despite putting up a good-girl front for outsiders, relies heavily on alcohol. This puts a strain on her relationships, including the one with Kat, who has the reputation of being unapproachable, but apparently defrosts her chilly facade for Dr. Ken Mallory (Chris Noth) and gets pregnant before the second act.
Highlights are many, but none more visible than the perf by O’Grady, who puts even more distance between herself and her Abandando character in “NYPD Blue,” demonstrating a versatility allowing her to stand apart from her web series colleagues. Noth, too, proves there’s life after a series (“Law & Order”).
Williams is a good foil for her colleagues as the compassionate yet conservative doctor. Bridges hits a home run with his brief but pivotal perf, while McRaney mines familiar Marine-like territory as an egomaniacal surgeon forced to cope with the onset of multiple sclerosis and the impact of disease on his career.
Director Jack Bender ekes top-notch readings from his telefilm’s experienced cast and maximizes the hospital setting to take advantage of the current popularity of medical dramas.