This feel-good hospital drama does nothing new…but does it pretty well.
As the newly-appointed medical director of New Amsterdam, America’s first public hospital, Max Goodwin is determined to make changes. He begins by firing the entire cardiac surgery team for over-billing patients; eliminating the ER’s waiting room, so every patient can be seen immediately; and demanding that the hospital’s top fundraiser and public face with the media, Dr. Hana Sharpe, begin treating patients again. Swept up in Max’s quest to “Break the rules and heal the system” are the only remaining cardiologist, Floyd Pearson, who struggles both with his assignment to create a new cardiology team and his romance with ER head Laura Bloom; Iggy Frome, an unconventional child psychiatrist; and the traditionalist Dr. Anil Kapoor. But Max is motivated in his mission of change both by his desire to make a difference, and his awareness of his lack of time: his wife is estranged, a baby is on the way…and Max himself has cancer.
New Amsterdam is just the latest in a long line of hospital dramas, stretching from the 1970s Medical Center to more recent programs like Code Black, while the character of Max Goodwin, a doctor-in-charge who hits on the radical concept of doctors actually caring about their patients, not merely doing paperwork and making money, owes its most recent debt to shows like ABC’s The Good Doctor. Actually, New Amsterdam is most strongly reminiscent of CBS’ quickly canceled 2017 series Pure Genius, with an upbeat, break-the-rules hospital director who is motivated by his own fatal disease.
As this list of antecedents makes clear, there’s nothing terribly original about New Amsterdam; but it does what it does fairly well, with enough interpersonal character drama to keep the program interesting, but not so much it becomes a nighttime sex soap like Grey’s Anatomy.
The first episode was practically devoid of troubling content, with only a few swear words and mild sexual innuendo (Laura continually invites previous lover Floyd “out for a drink – and when I say ‘out for a drink,’ I don’t really mean ‘a drink’”). The only slightly disturbing element in the first episode was a patient with an ebola-like disease, who vomited copious amounts of blood on himself and his doctor.
Those who enjoy medical-themed character drama will likely enjoy New Amsterdam, which is largely safe for families with children.
New Amsterdam premieres Tuesday, September 25 on NBC.