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Race against time, outbreaks

September 09, 2004|Paul Brownfield | Times Staff Writer

When I saw that a new drama on NBC was called "Medical Investigation," I thought, fine, if that's all the thought you're going to put into the title, I'll just call this "Review of Television Show."

Then I put the tape in and, boy, are those folks on "Medical Investigation" ever tense. I think this is because they have to figure out the source of strange diseases and viral outbreaks, and the clock is always running out.

"Do not tell me that I am running out of time," Dr. Stephen Connor (Neal McDonough) barks into his cellphone at Dr. Natalie Durant (Kelli Williams of "The Practice") in tonight's episode.

I hope he says this every episode; it could make for a great tagline. Tonight, he's trying to figure out why certain patrons of a certain New York City diner have fallen gravely ill. But of course, he's running out of time.

I think I've seen this movie (it was called "Outbreak," and another time, in an entirely different context, it was called "Speed").

"Medical Investigation" is also a slick thriller, goofy in its dialogue but also well-made and zippy.

The show is about an elite team of medical sleuths working for the National Institutes of Health called in to figure out mysterious, fatal illnesses -- cases, a disclaimer tells us at the top of the show, "inspired by true events."

But "Medical Investigation" is also inspired by Hollywood cliches. In addition to telling each other there's no time, the characters make haughty speeches.

"Your tax dollars pay for the NIH," Dr. Miles McCabe (Christopher Gorham) tells a naysaying hospital doctor, "so that when, God forbid, some unforeseen, nasty, never-before-seen-or-heard-of calamity strikes you, some rubber-stamping bureaucrat doesn't write you off without even trying."

The debut episode airs at 10 tonight, then "Medical Investigation" moves to its regular time slot of Friday nights at 10. If you don't realize this until Friday night at 9:45, don't worry, you still have time.


`Medical Investigation'

Where: NBC

When: 10 tonight, moves to regular 10 p.m. time-slot Fridays.

Rating: The network has rated it TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under age 14).

Neal McDonough...Dr. Stephen Connor

Kelli Williams...Dr. Natalie Durant

Christopher Gorham...Dr. Miles McCabe

Troy Winbush...Frank Powell

Executive producers, Laurence Andries, Bob Cooper, Scott Vila, Marc Buckland. Creator and co-executive producer, Jason Horwitch.

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