If I can’t review a show on the day it airs, I guess I can at least review it before the second episode airs.
Thinking about hospital dramas, there seems to be a basic question of what sort of hospital you use. You can go with a cutting edge medical situation, even bleeding that edge into unreality. That’s Three Rivers, Trauma, House. Amazing everyone with medical technology. Or you can go with something that seems more like a “typical” hospital, to show the real world. E/R and Chicago Hope would both seem to land there. And at the tail end, you can go with a troubled hospital, one that is about struggling to do the best one can with a bad situation: St. Elsewhere, for example. And into that last category, we can now introduce Off the Map.
Off the Map is about a primarily-American-staffed charity clinic in the sunny, shady tropical poverty land of I-don’t-think-I-noticed-where. So it’s about Doing Good, and that’s a good thing; it’s about doing what you can with insufficient materials, about working in a culture that isn’t yours, about hope smashing headlong into reality. And about good-looking people finding excuses to look good, because this is still, after all, television.
With that as the setup,you or I could pretty much plot out the first episode, and get pretty much the episode that they aired – the young hopeful doctors who aren’t used to not having equipment. The making-use-of-the-jungle-to-help. The troubled romance to introduce the serial element.
They do a reasonably good job of it. It’s watchable – but no one on it is set up as fascinating enough that you must watch it. This hits me as a show that could be visited from time to time. It probably ultimately wants to be a bit of a Gray’s Anatomy, and I’ll leave it to those who like that show to judge how well it succeeds.