It's no secret that I'm a network TV junkie. If it's on HBO, The Movie Network or FX, I've probably caught the odd episode of any number of shows, but the programming on CTV, Global, City, CBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, NBC and The CW? They are PVRed and watched before the next new episode is broadcast or I catch it the same day (and sometimes time) it airs.
People slam procedurals but I love 'em. "CSI," "Criminal Minds," "Intelligence" and "Hawaii Five-0"? All good. Dramas with humour like "Parenthood," "The Good Wife," "Castle," "Almost Human," "Elementary," "The Blacklist"? The more, the merrier. Deadly serious shows such as "Scandal," "Nashville" and "The Following," or action fantasies like "Teen Wolf," "Arrow," "The Tomorrow People," "Sleepy Hollow," "Once Upon a Time" (in Storybrooke and "in Wonderland")? Bring. Them. On. And hospital dramas? Well, there's only one that is on the air that I tune into each week faithfully -- "Grey's Anatomy" -- but that's all about to change. (My poor PVR.)
"Remedy," from creator Greg Spottiswood ("King"), is Global's latest series, which centres on a family of hospital staffers all working at Bethune General. But if you think it's a simply a hospital drama, think again. "Remedy" is all about family.
The drama stars Enrico Colantoni ("Flashpoint," "Veronica Mars") as Dr. Allen Conner, the hospital's acting Chief Of Staff. But the story picks up when his medical school dropout son, Griffin (Dillon Casey, "Nikita"), shows up after two years away from the family, shocking his dad and sisters, nurse Sandy (Sarah Allen, "19-2"), and surgeon Melissa (Sara Canning, "The Vampire Diaries"). Viewers will learn in the first episode just why Griff's doctor dreams were shot and why he's back at the hospital, working as a porter.
But don't count on the show to have any flashbacks to two years earlier. Colantoni calls it "too easy," while Allen explains that the story simply comes out naturally. "Things come up, stories come up, we talk about it and things are fleshed out and explained. [Flashing back] doesn't seem to be a necessary thing."
Canning adds: "It's kind of lovely getting their take on it now, and just seeing how it's affected them and where they're at with each other now, inferring what's happened or getting little pieces of it throughout the season."
In the past, there have been many attempts to make the next "Grey's," "ER," "House," "St. Elsewhere," "Chicago Hope," and why not? A hospital provides the perfect setting for many storylines to bloom -- high-tension situations, romantic moments, and tons of drama and suspense. Throw in a dysfunctional family and it adds a whole other dimension.
"Things happen that will bring them all together," says Colantoni. "It still very much is a family drama and when you see them all together, and when you see his ex-wife [Rebecca, played by Martha Burns] in the room with them, you get a sense of why everyone is so f--ked up."
Some might say "Remedy" isn't groundbreaking television, but I honestly don't recall seeing anything like it. Stories centring on cases and patients each week and the people who care for them is one thing, but "Remedy" looks at the hospital structure, particularly the support staff, which is kind of fascinating, and introduces viewers to a world we have never seen before, at least not on television. Heck, my mom and sister are nurses but I had no idea the whole "upstairs/downstairs" world existed to the degree it does in "Remedy."
"There's nothing sensational about it," Colantoni says, then clarifies, "It's sensational but it's not sensational. It's not this false, manipulated, heightened drama. You just feel it. And that's where this show lives. That's what's exciting about making it."
"Remedy" is reminiscent of "Rookie Blue" in the sense that it's a drama but doesn't take itself too seriously. Viewers get to see these darkly funny moments along with some heartwarming ones, making for a fascinating watch.
"It leaves itself alone," Allen says thoughtfully and Canning concurs: "Nothing is taken for granted in the writing and I love that."
What might be most amazing is that the entire first season, all 10 episodes, have already been shot. So there won't be any feedback for the studio and the writers, suggesting a particular character needs to be fixed or edited down, or a story is going in an unsatisfactory direction. This doesn't happen too often with a series (in fact, for Colantoni, he doesn't recall it ever happening) so the trust simply had to be there - for everyone involved. But Casey "didn't really think about it." He just knew he "liked it" and what they were doing was working.
"I think it's a bit of a double-edged sword," explains Casey. "Often you get a show and it'll start running while the writing and production is still happening and the fans will really respond to a character. But often they don't realize that it was good how it was.
"What's good about 'Remedy' not being on the air while we were doing it is we were just forced to really trust ourselves and really trust what we were doing," he continues. "[The writers] weren't writing it for the audience, they were writing it for themselves and I think that's good."
Speaking of good, there's a scene in the premiere that completely won me over. It's a quiet one, a blink-or-you'll-miss-it moment where Dr. Allen sees son Griff for the first time in years. It's a tiny, subtle thing Colantoni does but it proves why he's perfect for this kind of role.
"It was the only chance I got to show how he really felt about his son," recalls Colantoni. "Because whenever they're together, it's this [bashes fists together]. And not out of resentment and anger, but really just trying to understand each other. That was the only moment I had to really show that I love him."
The actor understands that the patriarch seems to be the go-to role for him these days and he doesn't mind at all. As long as there are layers to him, then all is good.
Casey, however, doesn't see Colantoni as the patriarch. "I just see him as Dad. I know it means the same thing but it kind of doesn't at the same time. He's not a hard-ass, there's no iron fist, he tries to relate to his children and tries to see things from their point of view. He's a nice dad who does his best to be there."
But Colantoni does add that the iron fist will come out if need be. "There is an element of this guy on the page that is that guy, and that this family is strong and no one will destroy them. And the minute Griff comes back, Allen realizes, "We're going to be indestructible."
And the Conners are definitely a family to be reckoned with. Because no matter what their differences are and whatever feelings come screaming back once Griffin is resurfaces in their lives, after all that's said and done, they clearly love one another. They don't have to work together, in the same hospital. There are sick people all over the place and one or all of the Conners could easily go work elsewhere. But it's a testament to how strong the bond is between their dad and the siblings that keeps them together.
"They don't want to be anywhere else," insists Colantoni. "He stays. He doesn't have to stay. But it's unsaid. Nobody's saying "I love you," "I love you," ever. But it's implied in the relationships."
Allen adds: "They're all very strong characters. They do love each other. They've chosen to be together all the time. But they can't seem to totally escape their nature, who they are, and the way they interact. They all kind of want to be themselves and have their freedom but they also need each other desperately."
Unlike other predictable hospital dramas, "Remedy" is anything but, making it like nothing else on TV right now. Original series are hard to come by nowadays but thanks to its brilliant storytelling, direction and the strong actors representing the work, "Remedy" is unique, fun and entertaining, and makes for an enthralling hour of television.
"Remedy" premieres Monday, Feb. 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Global.