Premiere Date: July 17th 2014
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Starring: Tom Ellis, Larenz Tate, Sarah Habel, Rick Gonzalez, Odette Annable, Brian Markinson, Erica Cerra, Rolando Molina, Angell Conwell, Gino Anthony Pesi
What do you get if you mix a skilful and knowledge concierge doctor with a wad of cash, no questions asked? What do you get with a doctor with an attitude like’…we don’t scream, we don’t discriminate, we don’t judge, I’m not a shrink, not a lawyer, not a priest, not a cop, we treat people who pay…’? That’d be my question when asking about the new medical drama show Rush. Well the answer lies partially in the pilot episode, and hopefully fully in the following episodes, in the 9pm slot on USA Network on Thursdays.
Premiering this week with Satisfaction, another new show; Rush is set in Los Angeles, and seems to be a grittier version of 2009’s Royal Pains (also on USA Network) from first impressions. Like most other pilots, this show dives straight into the action, then fleshes out quite a lot of main and supporting characters in William Rush’s life. Before we know it, the hour is gone and then I wonder ‘what did I just watch’. Because in terms of plot, it’s pretty simple. In terms of character development, it is ok in patches (hopefully there’s more development further down the track), but in terms of content and parallel stories, there is heaps jam packed in. So where does Rush stand in the sea of USA shows that are failing (Graceland, Royal Pains), succeeding (Suits), and finished (Monk, Psych, Burn Notice)?
Immediately off the bat, we are introduced to an efficient, effective high profile concierge doctor called William Rush, played by Tom Ellis (Miranda), who is a concierge doctor, like Hank Lawson from Royal Pains yet with one small difference. He likes to party. Hard. In fact, Rush aligns himself with the wealthy, and treats their ailments even though some clients are involved in unscrupulous activities. William Rush has a host of flaws, not that he knows about them or acknowledges them.
If you want to know the type of man he is, then read on. Just in the pilot alone, Rush’s clients involve a movie producer suffering from a broken penis, and the girlfriend of an angry baseball player who hits her. He also treats a girl suffering from a drug overdose, after he has smoked pot and snorted cocaine with her. Yet Rush, who is supposed to have ethics and a moral compass as a doctor, doesn’t bat an eyelid or flinch during these cases, which is what a ‘normal’ doctor would do. But Rush isn’t anything but a normal person.
Rush makes some pretty questionable choices in the pilot, most of them intentional, and while not enough backstory is given to him, I can only presume that Rush acts out and actively uses pills and drugs, out of something that happened in his past. It is these choices, and their ramifications for him, his patients (Rush works on his patients usually while he is high or having a hangover) and his friends that makes him a multi-faceted character that is sure to peel back and reveal more as the stories progress.
Without a major issue, you wouldn’t need to root for the protagonist, and Rush has plenty of issues. His pill addiction, his aloofness and lax attitude to the rules, makes him all the more interesting and layered, at least for me, even though things didn’t progress character-wise that much here. Like Royal Pains in that Rush treats multiple patients per episode, what is different is that these clients need to pay Rush cash in hand up front, just so that he doesn’t expose their dirty little secrets to the press or the cops. If Rush were a man with morals, he’d care, but he doesn’t. There is a brief moment showing that he could care at the end, but that is quickly extinguished before you can blink.
Though it seems like Rush is a guy who is a mess, there are people in his corner that are loving and kind to him, not judging his flaws, but trying to help him be a better person. His best friend Alex, portrayed by Larenz Tate (Rescue Me, House Of Cards), a surgeon on the emergency floor at the local hospital, is somewhat his sounding board, as he tries to ‘scold’ and reprimand Rush for his childish behaviour, such as snorting cocaine with a patient at the beginning of the episode. His beautiful, feisty, loyal assistant Eve, who is played brilliantly by Sarah Habel (Underemployed), and whom might also have a romantic history with Rush, is his voice of reason, always telling him the upsides and the downsides of certain patients. Of course, Rush doesn’t listen to her, preferring to treat patients regardless if they are from the mob or not. Odette Annable is Rush’s ex-girlfriend Sarah, who comes back into town to tell Rush some devastating news about her health (and also to be a part of Alex’s son’s birthday party), and you can tell that as a recurring character, she might be the one to turn Rush from not caring to caring after all.
But each friend is flawed as well, and doesn’t go all the way to assist Rush in battling his demons. Alex joins Rush is smoking a cigarette at his son’s birthday party, with his wife (Erica Cerra) just outside; and Eve doesn’t fully stand up to Rush, nor does she act on her voiced opinions about dangerous clients. Sarah, on the other hand, is perfect to help Rush reform, as she knows him the best, but is just about fed up at looking out for Rush, and leaves to whereabouts unknown at the end of the pilot (but she’ll be back!) So without that constant accountability, it’s no certainty that Rush will reform (and from watching this episode, you’d want him to! In this episode, we are also introduced to Rush’s drug dealer (why am I not surprised?) Manny, and after performing a successful off-the-books surgery on Manny’s friend, Rush is indebted to the whole mob, who at the end help him out on a stick situation with a stubborn client. It’s a slippery arrangement, and one that will fuel the whole season underlying plot. Rush is walking on a tight rope and that tension is what I would watch week after week, to see how Rush handles and juggles the pace of his business with his many relationships and his favour to the mob.
Content wise this show is a bit dark for USA Network at 9pm, when kids are about watching on TV, so I would advise parents to switch the channel to something more family friendly if children want to watch something. Drug use is introduced immediately and there are sex scenes and references occasionally as well. During the impromptu operations that Rush conducts on his patient’s living room floors, there is blood and gore, although no more blood than Royal Pains. It’s a shame that there are not that many outdoor shots (except for the picturesque views when Rush is driving his car through the city), but hopefully in later episodes, the location of L.A is used a bit more for its landmarks and natural beauty. But all in all, though it’s edgier than what USA Network has provided to us in the past (and granted, this show may have worked better on TNT or Showtime), I am glad that this network is taking risks considering that there are only 4 current dramas of 2 seasons or more.
It’ll be interesting seeing ratings for this show tomorrow. With this version that I saw being only 42 minutes (the rest of the USA pilots I have seen have all been 70 minutes or over), it’s a sign that may be good or bad, it just depends. There’s a high profile cast, with all of them working together in harmony and chemistry, and with Rush’s dad and stepmom (Harry Hamlin and Rachel Nichols respectively) to join the show in the near future, expect a bit more family drama and a tad less medical diagnoses, which is fine by me. Though this is not a perfect pilot by any means, I will still keep watching, and praying for its success, and hopefully this medical show in the coming years can be uttered in the same breath as Royal Pains!
Did Rushleave a lasting impression on you? Which theme in the first episode spoke to you the most? What elements of the show did you enjoy- the medical or the relationship parts? Will you be tuning in next week? Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Royal Pains, Rake, House, Psych, Ray Donovan
Rating: 3.5/5 (based on 1 episode)
Rush airs every Thursday at 9/8c on USA Network.