Is 'Monday Mornings' worth an appointment?
MORE FEATURES CRITIC'S CHOICE SERIES NOTES LATE NIGHT BY KEVIN McDONOUGH
Prolific television writer/creator David E. Kelley has not had a hit since "Boston Legal." Could "Monday Mornings" (10 p.m., TNT, TV-14) change that?
Based on a novel of the same name by CNN's medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, "Mornings" allows Kelley to return to two of his strengths, the hospital soap opera (he created "Chicago Hope") crossed with a hint of legal drama. (In addition to "Boston Legal," he created "The Practice.")
Much of "Mornings" unfolds like your standard medical procedural. Better-than-average-looking surgeons fight to save their patients and to keep their hands off each other.
Things get interesting when Harding Hooten (Alfred Molina) convenes all of the surgeons in a medical amphitheater to publicly review their recent successes and failures. They seem to do this a lot. There, they have to defend their decisions, which can often be influenced by ambition and arrogance.
Molina's Hooten is formidable, exercising godlike authority over a gaggle of well-meaning egomaniacs.
Ving Rhames stars as Jorge Villanueva, the trauma chief who cares deeply. Hotshot neurosurgeon Tyler Wilson (Jamie Bamber) is similarly tortured by the need to be a surgeon/savior to every patient.
Good thing he's got gorgeous (but married) colleague Tina Ridgeway (Jennifer Finnigan) to console him. Sarayu Rao plays type-A Sydney Napur, whose inability to stop caring so darned much scares away every potential Mr. Right. The brilliant and prickly but barely comprehensible Sung Park (Keong Sim) tiptoes pretty close to ethnic stereotyping.
The montage-happy Kelley has even reshuffled his baby boomer jukebox. Not a note of Motown can be heard in the pilot, but he does throw in some Rolling Stones.
A medical show with lawyerly leaning, "Monday Mornings" avoids the obvious cuteness that has dogged Kelley's work since "Ally McBeal." For that reason alone, it has the potential to become appointment TV for fans of these genres.
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