TV Review - Jackie K Cooper
Code Black (CBS)
It is not easy to find a highly watchable series among the crop of newbies being offered on TV this season, but I have found one standout. It is CBS' Code Black, and it is ER on steroids. At first glance I thought it had potential but I didn't know if I would invest an hour every week to watch it. The draw was Marcia Gay Harden, an actress I have admired for years, but she didn't seem to be at the top of her game in the role of Dr. Leanne Rorish. "Not so fast," a little voice inside my head whispered and by the second episode she had me hooked.
This is one of those series that is perfectly cast. Harden and Luis Guzman play two of the lead medical people in the ER of a major hospital in Los Angeles. They have four interns training under them. Harry Ford is Angus Leighton, Bonnie Somerville is Christa Lorenson. Benjamin Hollingsworth is Mario Savetti. Melanie Chandra is Malaya Pineda. In a short period of time you have a fix on each of these characters personality and aspirations.
The setting for the show is chaotic but somehow the directors and writers of the different episodes manage to hold it all together and the assorted emergency cases are fully fleshed out. It also helps that each episode manages a surprise twist or two that are completely unexpected.
Harden paces her performance expertly revealing just enough of her character's personal tragedy and reaction to it to keep the viewer interested. She is definitely the star of the show but she is given close competition by Somerville who has made her character the heart of the show. Somerville's inner warmth flows out of the screen and wraps viewers in a warm hug of compassion.
It is also interesting to watch the performance of Raza Jaffrey who plays Dr. Neal Hudson, another ER doctor. Jaffrey was one of the worst elements of Smash in which he played Katherine McFee's lover. He is so good and appealing in this new role that you realize he was simply miscast in Smash. There are hints of a budding romance between his character and Somerville's and I am one hundred per cent for it.
Code Black also has room for guest stars to come on set and deliver some acute performances. Best yet has been Gail O'Grady as a mother faced with a reverse Sophie's choice in regards to her two sons. O'Grady turned up the emotional levels and made viewers despair right alongside her.
Week after week I have found the show getting better and better. It has earned its rightful place in my TiVo settings along with "Fargo" and only a few other shows. You should try it. I think you would soon be as much of a convert as I am.
Code Black airs Wednesdays at 10PM on CBS.
Jackie K Cooper