As you’ll come to find out (or might already know if you follow us on Twitter) I am a sucker for a procedural. Law and Order: SVU is one of my staples; I’ve watched all twelve seasons of Bones multiple times; I was devastated when Rosewood was cancelled last year. I am predisposed to enjoy any kind of procedural show whether it’s medical, law enforcement, firefighters or all three (I’m looking at you 911!). The only reason I don’t watch every single Chicago-based procedural drama on NBC is because there aren’t enough hours in the day and this is not my full time job yet.
All of this is to say that I should have been 1000% sold on New Amsterdam from the moment it was announced. Unfortunately, the more I saw about it the less interested I got. Many trusted review sources came down pretty hard on the show in general so the consensus was not great. Perhaps because of this my expectations were pretty low when I sat down to watch the pilot and I ended up being pretty impressed with one huge caveat.
I hate Max Goodwin.
I do understand the craziness of truly enjoying a show while simultaneously despising the main character. I get it. That sounds bonkers. But it’s true. Every single other part of this show works for me – it has Martha from Doctor Who for crying out loud! – but for whatever reason I can’t get past Max (Ryan Eggold) and his terrible attitude. Luckily the rest of the cast is populated with fun and interesting characters whom we’ll hopefully spend more time with in the future.
As a pilot, this episode is actually pretty great (I’m very impressed by ALL the pilots I’ve seen this season!). We get a good sense of all the characters and their relative pecking order. Max has been appointed the new medical director of New Amsterdam Public Hospital and boy does he have ideas about how to “fix” it. First he fires like half the staff which feels like a bad move since most hospitals are woefully understaffed in the first place. Then he basically tells the remaining doctors to just do whatever they want. Again, this seems crazy from a management standpoint. Luckily all the doctors only want good things like being able to help abused psych patients and turning the waiting room into more triage space so people go straight to treatment (though again there are now half as many doctors so…).
Along the way Dr. Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims) gets fired and then unfired while he continually rebuffs the advances of Dr. Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery) – who he’s already slept with. Dr. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) who flies around the world speaking about the hospital so they can attract donors and rich patients gets an ultimatum from Max about actually practicing medicine. And Dr. Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine) takes a patient, Jemma (Lizzy DeClement) under his wing so she doesn’t have to go back to foster care.
Through all this, Max is a classic steamroller. From his introduction listening to people talk about him in Spanish when he knows they’re talking about him and is also fluent, to his fraught phone call with his pregnant and estranged wife Georgia (Lisa O’Hare), to his unbelievable arrogance at asking Lauren to do a throat culture on him and then not shutting the fuck up so she can do it! It’s infuriating. Luckily, he does take a couple breathers; the first is when a boy from the waiting room seems to be suffering from Ebola and Max has to talk a possibly-infected Lauren through procedures. The second is when Georgia comes into the hospital because she’s bleeding and he takes a beat to just be there for her. It’s actually pretty nice even if Georgia is no more interesting than plain oatmeal. I had also completely forgotten she even existed between her first and second appearances on screen which does not bode well for a romantic storyline.
The big twist of this pilot episode is that Max has cancer. I can’t say whether I’m shocked or not. Max definitely isn’t, but I almost certainly don’t care. This show could have been significantly more compelling if Max were more of a side character and it were about Floyd and Lauren instead. However, the rest of the characters including Frome and Helen are interesting enough to sustain the show even if I want to punch the lead right in the neck at all times.
Did you like New Amsterdam more or less than you thought you would?
Do you like Max?
Would you punch him in the neck if given the opportunity?
Now that the official New Amsterdam review is out of the way, follow my stream of consciousness bullet points below!
- OH man, do you think this guy definitely speaks Spanish? Yes!
- I don’t think Max is going to change enough in twelve weeks to step up for Georgia and the baby.
- It seems maybe unwise to get a dude whose sister died in this hospital to be Medical Director?
- Who is going to help this poor kid who came from the airport and get their job back?
- OMG shut the fuck up and let this chick do the throat biopsy YOU ASKED FOR!
- I have a feeling I’m going to like everyone on this show except for the actual lead who’s supposed to be charming but is definitely not.
- Honestly I might like Max better if his hair was like one inch longer…
- Goody, an Ebola outbreak on Max’s first day! That’ll help his raging hard on for helping people
- Hey man, if it takes the threat of rectal bleeding to keep someone in the hospital, you may as well try.
- Man…Lauren really wants Floyd’s dick doesn’t she?
- Why on earth is Jemma acting circles around Max?
- Ok, maybe I’m garbage but I’m actually loving this show.
- With several points off for the lead who’s still pretty repugnant.
- This racial stuff with Lauren and Floyd is slightly weird – but I do agree with Lauren to a point – no black ladies are asking him out.
- Dr. Frome is super cute. He might be my favorite.
- I had 100% forgotten Georgia even existed when she called Max again…not great for a romantic plotline btw
- Well the only thing this show could have done to fully sell me was playing “Fix You” over a montage of all our characters and it fucking did. I’m in it for the long haul now…