When in the course of human events, you see that ABC has a new show about a military surgical center in Afghanistan called "Combat Hospital," the comparisons with "MASH" are inevitable and unfortunate. Unfortunate at least for co-creators Jinder Chalmers, Steve Lightfoot, and Douglas Steinberg because virtually any show that is compared with "MASH" will come up short, which "Combat Hospital" most certainly does. But here are a few things to remember about "MASH" that may help level the playing field: It was an American political comedy (based on a satirical film of the same name) that used the Korean War to make some fairly bold statements about the nature of war and the American military.
"Combat Hospital," on the other hand, is a Canadian hour-long drama about a war that the United States is currently waging. The soldiers in Afghanistan (and by extension, Iraq) are still dying, the enemies they fight are still enemies. Yet "Combat Hospital" appears content to use these things as a backdrop for a show that has all the soap-operatic hallmarks of a stateside medical drama. The opening scene has Maj. Rebecca Gordon (Michelle Borth) taking a pregnancy test while in the bathroom of an aircraft about to make a "military landing." Once on the ground in Kandahar, she meets fellow newbie Bobby Trang (Terry Chen), the strict but saintly Col. Xavier Marks (Elias Koteas) and, as Hawkeye stand-in, a British civilian doctor and possible lothario named Simon Hill (Luke Mably). Rounding out the team are the formidable but gentle nurse Cmdr. Will Royal (Arnold Pinnock) and Australian psychiatrist Maj. Grace Pederson (Deborah Kara Unger). So much more "Grey's Anatomy" than "Generation Kill."