Peak MD? NBC’s ‘New Amsterdam’ Series Order Makes 6 Medical Dramas on Broadcast TV

It’s easier to catch a doctor-centric show on the Big 4 than a cold — so why is the Peacock picking up another?

Medical Dramas

When it comes to intense dramas set in hospitals, is it possible to over-prescribe? Maybe, but we’re not there yet, at least judging from the upcoming television season.

There are currently five such shows airing on the Big 4 networks, and last Friday NBC announced it’s adding a new hospital wing in the 2018-2019 TV schedule, picking up the Ryan Eggold-led pilot “New Amsterdam” to series.

Per the logline, the medical drama “inspired by Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in America” focuses on “the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin,” who we’re told “sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care,” won’t be “taking ‘no’ for an answer,” will “disrupt the status quo” and “stop at nothing to breathe new life” into the storied institution. Which is, by the way, “the only one in the world capable of treating Ebola patients, prisoners from Rikers and the President of the United States under one roof.”

If this synopsis sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve read many of these adjectives before in descriptions of, oh, every other medical drama on broadcast television.

At this moment, NBC is also home to “Chicago Med,” ABC touts “The Good Doctor” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” Fox has “The Resident,” and CBS houses “Code Black.” That means if all of them get renewed (and most of them have been already) “New Amsterdam” will bring us to an even half dozen medical drams overall.

So why did the network feel the need to order up 10 cc’s of another medical drama STAT? Well, that’s a good question, as the Nielsen numbers for this genre are all over the place, meaning it could either become a hit, provide the network with steady mid-range ratings, or tread water each week.

According to the most current season averages from Nielsen, “Chicago Med” is pulling in a 2.0 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, with “Grey’s Anatomy” scoring a 3.2, “The Good Doctor” earning a 3.4, “The Resident” posting a 1.7, and “Code Black” managing a 0.7, according to Nielsen. (That last one is not based on live + seven days of delayed viewing like the others, as the CBS series just returned for its third season two weeks ago.)

That means overall, “The Good Doctor” is currently the No. 9 show on broadcast, “Grey’s Anatomy” is 11, “Chicago Med” ties for 27th, “The Resident” ties for 42nd, and “Code Black” is ties at 138th. So, it’s not a completely safe bet, but in general it is a solid return on investment for most networks, which is why they are continuing to invest in the ones they have.

“Grey’s” was recently given a 15th season (after star Ellen Pompeo was bumped to a $20 million a year salary), while freshmen series “The Good Doctor” and “The Resident” were each granted a Season 2, and “Chicago Med” was just handed a fourth. The fate of “Code Black” has yet to be decided, though it is probably on the bubble once more.

Keeping in mind the ratings and renewal status of its soon-to-be competitors, what is going to make “New Amsterdam” standout in a sea of shows set in a hospital? A speciality — something all the doc-centric shows with a good prognosis have.

Shondaland’s “Grey’s” gives viewers their weekly dose of relationship drama among characters they’ve grown attached to for over a decade. “The Good Doctor” has Freddie Highmore playing an autistic doctor, something new there. The Resident,” as star Matt Czuchry told TheWrap in January, could be ‘The Shield” of the genre. “Chicago Med” is a Dick Wolf show, so it’s like “Law & Order,” but for hospitals. And “Code Black” focuses on the nation’s busiest ER.

Chances are it’s that Bellevue angle that NBC thinks will drive viewers mad for “New Amsterdam.” But only time, and fall ratings, will tell.

Aside from Eggold, the drama stars Freema Agyeman, Janet Montgomery, Jocko Sims, Anupam Kher and Tyler Labine.

David Schulner will write and executive produce the series from Universal Television, Pico Creek Productions and Mount Moriah, with Kate Dennis directing and executive producing the pilot. Peter Horton also executive produces, with Dr. Eric Manheimer grabbing a producing credit.