'Off the Map' docs operate in shade of 'Grey'

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OFF THE MAP is an ABC medical drama

OFF THE MAP is an ABC medical drama television series set in a remote South American village where six doctors search for reasons that brought each of them to medicine and premiering Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. Photo Credit: ABC/

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 "La Ciudad de las Estrellas" - City of the Stars - is not a city but a bustling, largely outdoor medical clinic in an unnamed South American country where three young doctors from the States converge. These three - Lily Brenner (Caroline Dhavernas), Mina Minard (Mamie Gummer, who is Meryl Streep's daughter) and Tommy Fuller (Zach Gilford of "Friday Night Lights") - are running away from something or someone, but mostly a past that was either painful or inglorious or both.

Las Estrellas is their second chance. Run by slightly enigmatic, extremely hunky Dr. Ben Keeton (New Zealander Martin Henderson), with assists from docs Zee Alvarez (Valerie Cruz) and Otis Cole (Jason George), Las Estrellas is a sauna that's underfunded and understaffed. "Improvise" is the order of the day here.

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MY SAY "Off the Map" isn't really off the map but filmed in Hawaii. The evocation of "Lost" is purely unintentional, even if you do expect to see the Smoke Monster come crashing through the jungle to teach young Dr. Keeton some moves he didn't learn in medical school.

What Rhimes and her writing and production accomplice, Betsy Beers, really want to evoke is "Grey's Anatomy," and that they do expertly. All the familiar "Grey's" beats, riffs, motifs and gimmicks are here: The Old Man Who Just Lost a Wife; The Father (or Mother) Whose Kid Is Dying; and my longtime favorite - The Patient Who Seems to Be Perfectly Fine Until Just Before the Commercial Break (When He/She Coughs Up Blood).

But the change of scenery has also done Rhimes a world of good. She may still be up to her old tricks, but here they seem fresh and energetic. Best of all, she has a solid young cast that pulls them off well.

BOTTOM LINE Greens, azures, Hawaii . . . er, "South America" . . . and an appealing cast. Seems all good to me.

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