THE SHOW "NY Med"
WHEN|WHERE Tonight at 10 on ABC/7
WHAT IT'S ABOUT This new eight-part series takes cameras inside (and out) of New York Presbyterian's Weil Cornell and Columbia Medical Centers. It's another in the series by veteran ABC News producer Terry Wrong, who's done similar you-are-there profiles at other great medical institutions, such as Johns Hopkins and Massachusetts General. The first episode features Rhonda Fernandez of Farmingville, who undergoes surgery for a brain tumor while awake. Also shown tonight performing heart surgery is Dr. Mehmet Oz who -- when he's not starring in his own show or writing bestsellers -- is chief of the hospital's prestigious Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program.
MY SAY Anyone who has ever had any dealings with New York Presbyterian knows what a spectacular institution this is and that many of the surgeons here are world leaders in their fields. Could there be any more exciting a subject for an unscripted series than this?
Nope, and "NY Med" brings it all home with power, beauty, insight and a degree of emotion that's an occasional sharp uppercut to the jaw.
"NY Med" is unscripted storytelling at its best, but it certainly helps to have the right components for this kind of story, notably the nurses and doctors (and not just that wizard Oz, either) and a stream of humanity at its most vulnerable. There are a few transplant stories crafted for maximum emotional impact, though an unexpectedly poignant moment arrives in the third episode when an elderly woman named Virginia, suffering from alcohol poisoning, dies in the ER. She's a "frequent flier" -- a frequent patient of years' standing -- and it's the nurses' moment to cry when she's bagged. Wrong and his production team bring these stories into such sharp relief that it's impossible not to become invested in them on some visceral level. You will get to know ER nurses such as Diana Costine, Katie Duke and Marina Dedivanovic, and doctors such as Sebastian Schubl, Anthony Watkins and Arundi Mahendran. You will also admire them -- especially their heart and passion -- which makes this not just uplifting TV but very nearly inspirational as well.
BOTTOM LINE Beautiful and often moving.