Worst drama TV series: I’m begging you for “Mercy”

December 10, 2009 — by Ren Norris

Medical trauma, the complicated love lives of several doctors and a ridiculously crowded hospital provide plenty of opportunities for drama. I’d bet you that was the pitch for the new NBC drama “Mercy.” I also bet that was the pitch for the tons of other medical shows that have already been made. My point? We’ve seen this all before.

“Mercy” follows the life of Veronica Callahan, played by Taylor Schilling, a tough-as-nails but brilliant nurse who returns to work at Mercy Hospital after a tour of service in Iraq. Flanked by Sonia and Chloe, two other nurses from Mercy Hospital, Veronica sets out to show off her superior medical knowledge gained in her Iraq experiences. Throw in a love triangle and a hunk like Dr. Sands (James Tupper) and you’ve got one melodramatic love life. So basically, it is Grey’s Anatomy with nurses. Yawn.

NBC seems to have been trying to replace the successful “ER,” which ran for 15 season on NBC before ending last year. But this attempt to revive enthusiasm for a new medical show has failed, as it seems there is just no room in viewers’ minds for another show about the lives of hospital staff. NBC even got rid of the show “Medium” to make room for “Mercy,” which back-fired as “Medium” is now stacking up the ratings for competing network CBS on Friday nights.

Though “Mercy,” currently in its first season, does seem to have witty dialogue and some trauma scenes that have kept me on the edge of my seat, it lacks originality to set it apart from the other medical shows. The acting is too raw, the characters are too predictable and the story line is too bland. I know this seems harsh for a new show still trying to find its footing, but it is so easy to compare “Mercy” to other medical shows, that it makes it difficult for “Mercy” to ever live up to the high standards of shows like “House” or “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Viewers need a breath of fresh air every so often to keep the audience interested, but that is not found as there are even parallels drawn between “Mercy” and Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” that sparks the idea that “Mercy” is a ripoff. The main characters of both of these shows, Jackie and Veronica, are the tough girls with attitude, both women are married but are having affairs and even supporting characters are mirrored like the bubbly character of “Zoey” from “Nurse Jackie” that is almost identical to the cheery “Chloe” in “Mercy.” Need I say more?

All grounds have already been covered in the medical show department, yet new shows are still being created with only slight variations. I guess the major networks don’t get the picture that medical shows are overworked. It’s not that “Mercy” is a terrible show—it is just not as good as the other medical shows out there. “Mercy” is attempting to play in the big leagues of medical shows, but it has to face the facts that it just isn’t original enough to be on the same playing field.

The trend of medical series may allow “Mercy” to ride the coattails of previous successful shows, but it won’t be long before “Mercy” watchers realize their case of deja vu—or at least see the need to spend their time watching a better medical drama.