Did Anybody Watch Off the Map?

by Liz Colville

Off the Map, ABC’s Shonda Rhimes-produced tropical doctor show, premiered on Wednesday night and was aired again last night following Grey’s Anatomy to try to pull in some viewers from that show, and also because the official premiere Wednesday was interrupted by President Obama’s memorial speech for the victims of the Tucson shooting. Did anybody watch it either time? This first episode seemed like an overly dramatic scene-setting labor of love, but then, premieres have to go big, so if you forget its self-consciousness for a minute, was it any good?

The show takes place “somewhere in the depths of the Amazon jungle,” as described by Martin Henderson, who plays hot experienced doctor Ben Keeton, and is filmed in Hawaii, which some people might think is in the depths of the Amazon jungle anyway. The stars are not really Ben and the other two more experienced doctors perched on the cliff at the beginning of the episode, but those three are certainly main characters, and they hang around to give the younger ones someone to listen to — and someone to look at. The young ones are led by Caroline Dhavernas, an eager overacheiever type named Lily who looks distractingly like her doctor-show forebear Meredith Grey. She’s a bit annoying, and only through the eyes of (already!) love interest Ben does she become more appealing. More interestingly, there’s Mamie Gummer, aka Meryl Streep’s eldest daughter, who adds some toughness and an untraditionally pretty face to the lady cast as Mina. She also specializes in some Meryl-like gestures, probably without realizing. Then there’s boring old Zach Gilford, aka Tommy, who’s kind of a wide-eyed dork with potential who likes to stare at boobs and is really psyched about his new job.

Medicine is different in South America, everyone! is the lesson of the first episode, in which a man gets caught in a zipline; one of the hot doctors punches a patient in the face to get him to calm down; and the young doctors get intimidated, dressed down, and yelled at by the three doctors who’ve been around for awhile, but are also given hope that there will be much boning of/with these doctors in future episodes. All in a day’s work, if you’re a doctor show on ABC. Still, the setting is compelling, you’re probably not going on that South American vacation any time soon, and there are unique stories behind each doctor. It would be nice to see the show stick around for a few more weeks so we can find what they are. Oh, and the sex.

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