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‘Station 19’ review: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ spinoff doesn’t ignite

Jaina Lee Ortiz stars on

Jaina Lee Ortiz stars on "Station 19." Photo Credit: ABC / Mitch Haaseth

THE SERIES “Station 19”

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC/7

WHAT IT’S ABOUT Station 19 is the Seattle firehouse that “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Ben Warren (Jason George) joined as a rookie earlier this season, and now it’s got its own spinoff series (and so does Ben).

This firehouse is run by Capt. Pruitt (Miguel Sandoval), whose daughter, Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz), serves as a tough-as-nails firefighter under him. Her best friend is Maya Bishop (Danielle Savre), and her sometime love interest is Jack Gibson (Grey Damon), who is Station 19’s lieutenant. A couple of other fighters: Dean Miller (Okieriete Onaodowan), a charmer and cutup; and Travis Montgomery (Jay Hayden), a by-the-book type who keeps Station 19’s members focused.

MY SAY George’s Ben Warren joined “Grey’s Anatomy” back in the sixth season, but after all these years, he never quite cracked the ranks of “Grey’s” top characters, like Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), Karev (Justin Chambers), Bailey (Shandra Wilson) or Avery (Jesse Williams). He was popular, just not that popular.

There are reasons. Foremost, he existed somewhat in the shadow of the much stronger Bailey, his wife and boss. Ben also was a bit unfocused, even to himself. Should he be a surgeon or an anesthesiologist? Should he live in Los Angeles or Seattle? Should he be a doctor or a firefighter?

At long last, Ben appears to have settled on a decision, but characteristically, this wasn’t an easy one. When ABC first laid the groundwork for this spinoff in the 13th season finale — a typically wild one, with a big explosion at Grey Sloan Hospital and lots of flames — Warren confided, “I’m not a big fan of fire. It’s my worst nightmare, actually.” Then, when Andy — introduced on “Grey’s” a few weeks ago — asked why the job switch, he explained, “I got into a lot of trouble” by operating on someone with a clipboard (seriously), and “now I get to do whatever it takes to save a life, and that’s only a good thing.”

Hey, tell that to the next guy you cut open with a clipboard, Ben. And you are the one that gets a spinoff?

But as the “Station 19” launch makes abundantly clear, poor, befuddled, clipboard-wielding Ben is once again mostly on the sidelines. Another firefighter barks at him when he suggests the worst possible treatment for someone (no spoilers) whose heart just stopped beating. His new firehouse buddies tolerate him more than embrace him.

In fact, what — or who — “Station 19” is really about is Andy, or in the loving words of her father, “Baby Rambo.” She’s the perfect prototype of Shondaland hero: Tough but vulnerable, smart but not too full of herself, strong but . . .

Well, strong. Period. She’s in control of her own head, her own body and almost her own life. No man is going to tell her what to do. He wouldn’t dare.

Think of Baby Rambo as three parts Bailey, two parts Mere.

Meanwhile, “19” feels exactly like a Shondaland show, but far more like a crossover than a spinoff. There’s perhaps a bigger problem: NBC’s “Chicago Fire” already does this show and does it well.

BOTTOM LINE Straight off the Shondaland assembly line, “19” has a good lead, lots of energy, but not all that much else — especially an original concept.

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