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  • TV Review: Off The Map

    January 13th, 2011

    Last night, the new Shonda Rhimes executive produced medical/romance/drama premiered on ABC, a network that had big hopes for the show and have advertised the hell out of it the last couple months. And coming from Grey’s and Private Practice creator Rhimes, and her protégé writer/producer Jenna Bans, it seemed like a no brainer.

    I’m manly enough to admit that I love Grey’s Anatomy. I’m sorry, but I do. And every time I start to lose interest, they do something awesome like last season’s shoot-em-up finale that pulls me back in. I used to watch Rhimes’ Private Practice too, only because I like Kate Walsh, but then lost interest after its second season (however, I recently started watching again after the whole rape attack storyline gave us one of TV’s best performances of the year from Kadee Strickland).

    So, I was happy to give Off the Map a shot. And with acting talents like Caroline Dhavernas (who was so likeable on Wonderfalls), Martin Henderson (who was in some good and bad movies), Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights) and my new obsession Mamie Gummer (from The Good Wife, but better known as Meryl Streep’s daughter), it seemed like a good recipe for success.

    Unfortunately, other than Caroline and Mamie’s likability factor, and it’s pretty location (shot on the “Lost” set in Hawaii), there’s nothing new to this show. And everyone’s worries that Off the Map was just Grey’s Anatomy in the jungle – were fully realized and then some. From the same lines of dialogue to the same characters and relationships, the show is nothing but a completely unoriginal ripoff, and a more superficial one at that.

    Zach Gilford’s character is Justin Chambers’ Karev character to a tee. Martin Henderson’s character is Patrick Dempsey with a slight poorly-hidden accent. Caroline Dhavernas has the same doe-eyed whiny yet relatable quality as Ellen Pompeo, and her developing friendship with Mamie Gummer’s character is exactly the same as the Meredith/Christina friendship on Grey’s, which was slow to develop into TVs strongest friendship bond. It’s all been done before.

    Rachelle Lefevre’s barely seen character in the pilot seems like the natural bitch foil that we’ve seen come through Seattle Grace in plenty of incarnations, including Kate Walsh’s Addison, except Rachelle is not NEARLY as likeable of an actress (probably because she’s so young and seems more like a brat than a scorned woman). And in case that’s not enough, there’s the demanding Latina “Nazi” character and the experienced black doctor (Isaiah Washington, anyone?) to round out the cast.

    Even the set ups and payoffs of the medical problems they face are the same. Two minor medical stories and two major medical stories per episode. A sting ray was used in the pilot, which was pretty cool, but is it really any different than the things we’ve seen on Grey’s? No.  And the major love stories in the show were obvious from the second scene. Gummer’s characters’ dismissal of Gilford’s character as a love interest made it obvious that their Izzy/Karev connection is written in the cards. And Caroline’s characters’ divulging of her dead fiancé to her boss, Martin Henderson’s character, who is also clearly suffering from losing a love, just hit us over the head too soon and made it too obvious that he’s her McDreamy.   

    I really like Caroline and Mamie.  But do I like them enough to keep watching a completely unoriginal show? Maybe for 2 more episodes. But unless they do something to convince me this isn’t Grey’s in the jungle, this show will be Off My Map.

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