Code Black


Pilot: A great cold opening that led into a relentless adrenaline high for the next 40-odd minutes, but therein laid Code Black's biggest problem. How can it maintain such high standards for a whole (network) season? Marcia Gay Harden is the star of the show and her entrance was brilliant. She was believable (in a TV sense of the word) and had enough vulnerability to not make her a sap. The central conflict was addressed early on and laid the groundwork for the rest of the pilot to focus on. Harden's chief sparring partner is Raza Jaffrey who has really seen his star rise since getting noticed on Smash. The other standout was Luis Guzman and it's a pity Kevin Dunn is not a regular. As for the residents, they are externally different but written oh-so boringly. The writing on the show is also bordering on cheesy and clunky, and unabashedly emotionally baiting. After the pilot, this feels like HOUSE M.D. on speed but lacking the cast chemistry and magnetic enigmatic charisma of Hugh Dancy.

Episode 2, We Plug Holes: This episode continues on the exploring the chaos that is Code Black and already the show feels repetitive with little to no characterisation. As the doctors are the focus, we do not get a good picture/depiction of the Emergency Room. In addition, it has a feeling of entitlement and indifference. All good medical-based TV tend to have a good mix of healthcare personnel: ER, Scrubs, and even Offpsring. The show sustained its watchability because of the adrenalin coursing through it, which begs the questions: how can they keep it going for 20-odd episodes, and how will the show be like when the volume is dialled down to 2 instead of 99. Kevin Dunn is this show's MVP - just like in VEEP.

Episode 3, Pre-Existing Conditions: Where are the opening credits? Pity. It's like they heard me. A quieter episode here and a lot of flaws are now showing. The Residents are still boring and stereotypical. Their storylines are run-of-the-mill and unexceptional, bringing nothing new nor exciting to the genre. The morality yardstick is too on the nose and the greyness in the earlier episodes seemed more black now. The showrunners are trying to let us know the characters better, but honestly, they don't seem too interesting. Raza Jaffrey is actually at the top of this stack and even Marcia Gay Harden is losing her intrigue now. Kevin Dunn on the other hand...At least some pairings work: Harden and Luis Guzman are a highlight. Writing definitely needs to improve. Most of the time the characters are spouting lines straight out from pre-UnREAL Lifetime.

Episode 4, Sometimes It's a Zebra: Dialogue is still clunky and the characters still flat and repetitive. The medical aspects of it are interesting but they do not really help to inform on characterisation or narrative much, and professionally, the medicine is just off the mark even with poetic licence. Many times it just served to add drama for drama sake, and the plotting is getting repetitive: "it's a risk you have to take", "you can do it...i can't...yes you can...".  "you're his doctor". And despite all that, in four episodes we have still not seen a big setback. Why have residences? Their struggles are not only inexperience.

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