Oh my Apollo, CSI: Cyber is so bad. So so so bad that I can’t even watch it.
I mean, I hated CSI: NY and I still watched it to its wretched, moralizing end, but Cyber‘s writing is so ridiculous that all I can think while watching it is why am I watching this?
So I stopped.
I do know exactly why I watch Code Black, however: because it’s good.
Again, a procedural, and, again, I started watching it because of Marcia Gay Harden and Luiz Guzmán—and they are terrific—but I keep watching it because I want to see what happens next.
Okay, so having Raza Jaffrey (a terrorist in Dirty Bomb, yet another sacrificial analyst in MI-5) doesn’t hurt, and Kevin Dunn is amusing as the ER’s director—and Moesha‘s dad is there, too, with his son (on the show), foxy character actor Cress Williams. And, slowly, I’m starting to warm to the various residents.
But I’m into procedurals because I like the cases, and Code Black does a great job with its cases. Okay, some aren’t great—the what-the-hell decision to unkink that woman’s ovary was a bit much—but they keep moving, moving, and in all of that movement you get to see the characters of the docs emerge.
It reminds me of early ER, where all of the action was focused on the work, and before it strayed from the fragile and weird in the ER and into the soapiness of life outside of it.
That the characters have lives outside is clear: Harden’s character, Lianne’s, family was wiped out by a drunk driver, the older resident’s son died of a glioblastoma, the asshole resident is a recovering addict, and you know there’s something going on with Jaffrey’s character to explain why he left surgery for emergency med.
Again, however, all of this is handled through the work, how their “outside” lives affect how they’re doctors. I like that.
But what I’m really impressed with is how they handle grief. It’s accepted that people will grieve in an ER, and the show let’s them do it. In one episode, a mother attacked her injured son for the drunk-driving accident which killed her other son. When one of the residents tried to intervene, Lianne said simply, This is what grief looks like.
Later in that same episode she tells the mother, who hasn’t left her dead son’s side, that she needed to be with her other son. He killed someone, Lianne said, and like any decent person who’s done that, he wants to kill himself. You need to help him want to live.
In another episode, a man comes into the ER to dry out, which he does, but by the end, he’s back, with Lianne stitching up his head. She’s gentle, matter-of-fact, when asked if she’s frustrated: No, a terrible thing happened; this is his grief ritual.
Sappy? I guess it could be, but I see it as a kind of rawness: a terrible thing has happened, and sorrow follows.
And that’s it; the sorrow remains.
I hope the show, even amidst the predictabilities of the procedural, can keep that rawness, and that sorrow.