Last summer, NBC aired a drama series called THE NIGHT SHIFT. This week, The Night Shift begins its second year in the regular television season, an upgrade few summer shows get. Has the show, which I labeled “pretty much a waste of time for all but the most bored summer viewers” in my pilot review on this very web site, improved enough to justify such a promotion? In a word, no.
For those who are fans, though, and I know that everyone has their own preferences, so there have to be some people out there that like THE NIGHT SHIFT, a sizeable enough number to convince NBC that moving it was a good idea, I will strive to give you a tantalizing preview into this new season.
When last we left the cast, much turmoil was rolling through the hospital. TC (Eoin Macken) was having trouble concentrating on his job, having flashbacks to past trauma. Jordan (Jill Flint) disobeys orders, putting in jeopardy her position of power. And the relationship between Jordan and Scott (Scott Wolf) is falling apart.
As the season premiere, “Recovery,” begins, much of that has played out further. Jordan is no longer the head of the staff. Jordan and Scott are no longer together. And TC is suspended, not allowed to do his job. These are all natural progressions from the season finale, and should come as no surprise to anyone.
The love triangle between Jordan, Scott, and TC, is a key component of The Night Shift, and “Recovery” has fun with this. Just because TC is suspended doesn’t mean he isn’t around, and while Scott remains a recurring player, not a member of the main cast, both find their way into the hospital with Jordan in the premiere hour. Their dynamic is fundamentally shifted by the close of the episode.
More surprising, to me anyway, is that one of the main characters quits their job. I do not think this signals an end to this person’s tenure on THE NIGHT SHIFT, as an intriguing new opportunity presents itself, and the show will surely follow them down that road, too. But in a charged scene that I enjoy very much, perhaps mostly because it involves guest star Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager), this person is fed up and does not go quietly into the night.
There are also two major medical emergencies to keep the story moving. One is in the hospital itself and is due to equipment malfunction. The other is in a more exotic locale, providing the action-packed cold opening. Because there is little emotional investment in these incidents, since they are not happening to major characters, they’re more set dressing than plot. But the latter is definitely something that will hook in fans wondering if they should return.
There’s also a very sweet moment in which a doctor makes a very large personal sacrifice for the sake of a patient. It’s the kind of decision no doctor could possibly routinely make and keep their sanity and even a middle class lifestyle. However, the believability is not as key here as making one of the players look like a hero, which happens all the time in primetime scripted dramas.
And, just to lighten the mood, a prank war breaks out in the hospital, which is as fun as it is hokey.
Only one main player from season, Dr. Landry de la Cruz (Daniella Alonso), is not back, and no new players have been added to the core group. The show continues to star, besides those listed above, Freddy Rodriguez, Ken Leung, Robert Bailey Jr., Brendan Fehr, Jeanne Goossen, and JR Lemon.
The inherent flaw with THE NIGHT SHIFT is that it’s covering well-trod ground such giants as ER and Grey’s Anatomy have already done better, with little original to justify its contribution. That trend continues in “Recovery.” Had I never seen another primetime medical drama, I might be vaguely interested in the tension between co-workers and the unusual medical cases. But with so many better options readily available, it seems pointless to set a season pass for a series that barely rates that low level of interest.
THE NIGHT SHIFT airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.