'Emily Owens, M.D.' review: mild medicine
THE SHOW "Emily Owens, M.D.," Tuesday, 9.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Hospital! It's just like high school, with the gossip, grudges, crushes, cliques, cute guys, girls, and the not-so-cute, or at least the socially inept, like Emily Owens (Mamie Gummer), who is one of the newest first-year surgical interns at Denver Memorial. The incoming class of other residents happens to include a secret crush, Will Rider (Justin Hartley); a former fellow med student; and even a "mean girl" from high school, Cassandra (Aja Naomi King), who knows Emily's high school nickname: "Pitts." Emily does meet a resident, Micah (Michael Rady), who provides a valuable reality check.
MY SAY "Emily Owens, M.D." is one of the oddest birds on any network fall schedule this year. It stars someone who looks strikingly like Meryl Streep -- there is a reason for that (she's her daughter) -- in a show that essentially mimics "Grey's Anatomy." But what's really odd is this: Why is "Emily Owen" even on the CW, land of oversexed teens, in the first place? By CW standards, this is a creaky geriatric -- a placidly paced, good-natured, by-the-book hospital drama that's so far outside the CW "sweet spot" that you start to wonder if it wandered here by accident. ("Emily, you took the wrong turn -- CBS is that way.")
One reason for this is Gummer herself, a talented actress and bit of an old soul who doesn't do "insecure teen" particularly well -- not that she tries. Part of her appeal is that she plays a young adult who can't forget what it was like to be a teen. (She also tells you that in voice-over, via Meredith Grey-styled platitudes that have all the certitude of a Hallmark card message: "We let go because if we don't, we'll never move on.") Gummer doesn't hard-sell the role, almost whispering her lines at times. She's not trying to be a CW cutout, but a multidimensional character.
BOTTOM LINE The show may not survive but might end up working for Gummer, who will one day need to step out of her mother's giant shadow. At least "Emily" proves she's got the chops to cast a shadow of her own.