Off the Map

There's nothing remotely new about "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes' third medical drama except the geography.

Charlie - Jonathan Castellanos
Zitajalehrena Alvarez (Zee) - Valerie Cruz
Lily Brenner - Caroline Dhavernas
Otis Cole - Jason George
Tommy Fuller - Zach Gilford
Mina Minard - Mamie Gummer
Ben Keeton - Martin Henderson
Ryan Clark - Rachelle Lefevre

The knee-jerk reaction is to characterize “Off the Map” as little more than “Grey’s Amazon,” inasmuch as there’s nothing remotely new about “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes’ third medical drama except the geography, vaguely described as “somewhere in South America” (actually, Hawaii). A closer kin, however, would be “Going to Extremes,” a short-lived but far quirkier 1992 ABC show about young medical students in tropical climes. Either way, beyond the blue skies and a couple of decent moments, there’s little to get excited about in an hour that follows Rhimes’ blueprint to a fault.

Three young medical residents (played by Caroline Dhaverna, Zach Gilford, and Mamie Gummer, Meryl Streep’s daughter) land at the only medical clinic in a 200-mile radius, where limited resources occasionally require unorthodox treatment.

The trio find themselves under the tutelage of three gruff doctors (Martin Henderson, Jason George and Valerie Cruz), with the facility’s brilliant but taciturn founder, Keeton (New Zealand native Henderson), obligingly stripping off his shirt to reveal chiseled abs. It’s a familiar procedure for Rhimes’ medical shows, which have a penchant for letting viewers fantasize about the bedside manner of doctors worthy of nicknames like “McSteamy.”

Not only does the sequence offer a scenic distraction, but it serves notice that “Off the Map” — created by “Grey’s” writer Jenna Bans — will share its basic building blocks with Rhimes’ other programs, particularly in its mixture of raging intramural workplace hormones with medical drama, from obscure maladies to a gruesome zipline accident.

What’s not clear is which of those elements amounts to the cart and which the horse. Either way, this formula — people who work diligently to save lives, then play hard rotating among each other’s beds — hardly feels sturdy enough at this point to support yet another variation on the theme.

The writing is solid enough to strike a few emotional chords, like a man (guest Michael McKean) who has schlepped to the jungle to scatter his late wife’s ashes. Still, there’s only so much the attractive cast — including recent “Grey’s” semi-regular Jason George and “Friday Night Lights” graduate Gilford — can do. Unlike “Private Practice,” moreover, ABC won’t be able to so readily prop up this new resident with “Grey’s” crossover episodes.

One of the doctors aptly explains the rudimentary medicine that’s practiced at the clinic by noting, “Here, it’s 1952.” In TV terms, though, the underlying DNA is more circa 1992, with a second episode — imperiling both a pregnant woman and her husband — feeling especially hackneyed.

The series opens with the doctors taking a cliff plunge into the inviting ocean, but this is a show where nothing qualifies as a creative leap, much less the sort of dive to merit keeping “Off the Map” on viewers’ radar.

Off the Map

ABC, Wed. Jan. 12, 10 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Hawaii by Shondaland in association with ABC Studios. Executive producers, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Gretchen Berg, Aaron Harberts, Jenna Bans, Randy Zisk; co-executive producer, Jeannine Renshaw; supervising producer, Luke Schelhaas; producers, Sara Fischer, Mark Fish; co-producer, Scott Collins; director, Zisk; writer, Bans.

Crew: Camera, Edward J. Pei; production designer, Gregory Melton; editor, Matt Ramsey; music, Ben Decter; casting, Linda Lowy, John Brace. 60 MIN.

Cast: Charlie - Jonathan Castellanos
Zitajalehrena Alvarez (Zee) - Valerie Cruz
Lily Brenner - Caroline Dhavernas
Otis Cole - Jason George
Tommy Fuller - Zach Gilford
Mina Minard - Mamie Gummer
Ben Keeton - Martin Henderson
Ryan Clark - Rachelle LefevreWith: Michael McKean.

More TV

  • B. Smith

    B. Smith, TV Host, Author and Restaurateur, Dies at 70

    B. Smith, a former TV host, restaurateur and author, died of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease on Saturday night in her home in Long Island, New York. Her husband announced the news in a Facebook post on Sunday morning. She was 70. “Thank you to Dr. Sam Gandy, East End Hospice and additional caregivers who helped us [...]

  • Our Cartoon president

    'Our Cartoon President' Boss R.J. Fried: 'The World Feels More Cartoonish Than Ever'

    As the Democratic presidential race heats up with each passing moment, the writers’ room at Showtime’s “Our Cartoon President” is constantly on its toes to keep up with the news cycle. “Bernie had his heart attack, and Mike [Leech, writer/producer] says, ‘At “The Simpsons” they never walk into work and say “Mr. Burns had a [...]

  • Claire Denis attends the 32nd European

    Claire Denis and Phedon Papamichael Join Doha Film Institute's Qumra Lineup

    The Doha Film Institute has added French auteur Claire Denis and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (“Nebraska”) to the lineup of star talent who will act as mentors for the Qumra Masters program during its upcoming Qumra event dedicated to fostering fresh Arab film fare that is opening up to TV projects. They join previously announced [...]

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna Pleads for Equality at NAACP Image Awards: 'Tell Your Friends to Pull Up'

    Rihanna was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award. The honor is bestowed on an entertainer whose commitment to philanthropy is unparalleled. Rihanna, whose chosen charities include the Clara Lionel Foundation, Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, was in attendance for the NAACP Image Awards show, [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Projected to Win Nevada Democratic Caucus

    Bernie Sanders is now projected to win the Nevada caucus. Per the Associated Press, Sanders has captured 54% of the delegates with 4% of precincts reporting on Saturday afternoon. Joe Biden is currently in a distant second with 17.8%, while Elizabeth Warren rose to third with 10%. Pete Buttigieg is in fourth place with 8.7%, [...]

  • Lizzo51st Annual NAACP Image Awards, Arrivals,

    NAACP Winners 2020: The Complete List

    Lizzo was named Entertainer of the Year at the 51st NAACP Image Awards on Saturday. The singer-rapper edged out Angela Bassett, Billy Porter, Regina King and Tyler Perry for the night’s top prize. Warner Bros.’ legal drama “Just Mercy,” meanwhile, nearly swept the top film awards, taking home best motion picture, ensemble, best actor (Michael [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content