Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Emily Owens M.D: Episode One

So, there was a new show out today, and I usually give the new ones a sneaky peak to see if it's anything I'm going to be obsessing about in the future. This has worked well for me so far; I've stumbled on some TV gold (Revolution, New Girl, Homeland), some truly guilty pleasures (Hart of Dixie, Switched at Birth) and some awful anomalies too, of course (Made in Jersey, The Mob Doctor).

I figured I might as well write recaps to the stuff I watch, because it's more useful than what I usually do while watching US shows on the computer (Read: Eat, fend off cats, throw things at the screen). So, that's what I'm doing. I also watched Hart of Dixie, Ben and Kate and Raising Hope today, balls. I'll have to go back and watch them again because my Etch-a-sketch brain has forgotten everything that happened more than half an hour ago.

This is Emily Owens.

Doesn't she look cute? Isn't she quirky? She's holding up an x-ray with butterflies in it! Butterflies! That's supposed to convey to us that she's super-nervous about starting her new job as an intern at some hospital that looks worryingly like it's made from at least 60% glass.

The episode starts with a VO, a technique that generally gets on my grits and makes me throw things. I don't know why, it just seems lazy. In Raising Hope today, they had a fully acted-out Ocean's Eleven-style heist speculation, complete with J-Lo's Grammy dress and it's own soundtrack, just SHOW us what this kooky blonde was like in high school, don't tell us. This time the VO is accompanied by a slow pan over a Welcome Back banner flying over Robert H Johnson High School, then zooms in on a fairly normal-looking blonde girl eating her lunch on her own outside, while Emily waffles on about how much of a geek she was back then, and how all the kids called her 'Pits' because of an unfortunate sweating incident in front of the whole school during debate finals. Remember that, it's not going to be the last time we hear about it. By a long shot.

We're meant to believe that this blonde kid is Emily as the zoom tightens and she explains that she got through the whole Pit-Geek thing by focusing on the fact that school would eventually finish and she'd blossom into the 'kickass person she was always meant to be.' That facade is shattered when the Faux-Emily girl looks straight at the camera and asks with a weight of disdain only a pre-teen can conjure: "What are you looking at, loser?"

Turns out Emily likes to have long, meandering mental monologues with herself, and she's rudely jarred out of the opening VO (one of the said meanderings) by the question. She stammers something about high school memories and generally acts like no one has ever spoken to her before in her life, something the kid (being of high school age and therefore predisposed to smell weakness in others) picks up, immediately and vocally confirming the 'loser' thing.

She doesn't look like a loser. She looks normal. I mean, she's standing outside a school having an argument with a fourteen year old violinist, which is weird I'll grant you, but not loser-y particularly. Creepy, maybe.

Emily is baffled and hurt by the accusation from a total stranger and "..blah-blah, not a loser, is it my shoes because these are for work," like, how is that a thing? Unless she worked at a bowling alley, I suppose, but then the title of this wouldn't be Emily Owens M.D. Probably. Unless it was about a doctor who fell out of grace with her hospital and then was badmouthed all over town so she couldn't get a job at another hospital and so finally takes the offer from her quirky Uncle Frank who runs the local bowling joint, and comes to a better understanding of bedside manner and people in general from her run-ins with the charmingly unconventional regulars.

I would watch the shit out of that, actually.

Anyway, the bell goes and the girl throws Emily an eye-roll and heads to class while the 'Doctor' yells after her that maybe SHE'S the loser, ever thought of that? And that her backpack is orange and also she has homework. I don't know, Emily isn't very good under pressure so far, I hope she's better at doctoring. She yells loud enough for a menacing looking teacher to approach the wire fence, causing Emily to apologise and stammer all over the absolute world before fleeing over the road to the Denver Memorial Hospital of GLASS AND STEEL. It looks sharp. I would be afraid.

Wait, that school was literally over the road from the hospital? Gee, I hope no one witnessed her melting down like the town drunk over there. (Spoiler! No one did.)

She tells us (as if we hadn't noticed) that she's still waiting for the 'kickass awesome' person to blossom, and then reels off a bunch of medical jargon to remind herself of the 'basics' before chiding herself for fussing and calling herself Dr Owens. I bet she did that a bunch in the mirror when she first got her scrubs. "Well, hel-lo, Dr Owens."


The hospital looks like the inside of a UFO, except for one side where it looks like bamboo with plants dotted around. I don't know. A cute guy with glasses and dimples calls her name and she identifies him as 'Will' a little too enthusiastically, and they exposition about how Emily is first-day-at-high-school-nervous and how apparently Will has heard hospitals are just the same as schools. Except, you know, probably less surgery going on in schools these days. Emily looks crestfallen at the prospect of more high school stuff, but perks up when Dr Will opines that he's glad they're interning together.

Emily: "How could I turn down the chance to breathe in the same air as Gena Mendari? The woman pioneered the percutaneous valve replacement."


To Wikipedia!

Well, I read through the entry about six times and I still don't know what it says. Suffice it to say, it's to do with replacing a valve in the heart, possibly through a catheter which is really weird because I thought that was more to do with the weeing section of medicine than the heart part. I don't know, what do you want from me, I'm no Gena Mendari.

Anyway, it was a big freaking deal, this percutaneous valve replacement, and I dearly hope that's the last time I have to type that out.

Love interest: Check

Emily adds in the privacy of her own head (but not from us) that she's also stoked about interning at DMH because of Dr Will, and when he puts his arm around her she spazzes out and stammers about being cold to her own disgust, but he follows up by saying that since the hospital is so 'cut-throat' (Gosh, I hope not) they'll have to stick together, and she giggles.

Generally the world is good for Emily Owens, M.D, until she makes it into the locker room where someone off-camera addresses her as 'Pits'.

For those of you drinking along with me, we'll be taking a shot every time we hear the name 'Pits'.

Unluckily for Emily, her high-school nemesis - Cassandra Kopleson - is also interning at DMH! HORROR! It's almost as if grown women have no way to grow emotionally past their school personas and are doomed to forever play the role that hormones and bad choices impressed upon us! To be fair to Emily though, Cassandra does kind of stink of bitch, and the way she Pits-ied her was pretty stanky.

Emily pretends not to know who she is to make her introduce herself to us, but I think Emily would be more likely not to be that socially savvy from what we've seen so far. I suppose there's a chance she wasn't trying to make Cassandra say her name to get one up on her, actually. She probably just froze, she's good at that. Turns out that not only is Cassandra interning with Emily, she's here for the same fucking percutaneous valve replacement reason, and then she gets her stank all over Will as he introduces himself (his last name is Collins) by giving him a good eye-fucking. Emily not pleased. Emily mad, especially about the way Cassandra then calls her Pits. AGAIN. They wander off to get inducted.


Opening credits are butterflies fluttering in a ribcage and some plinky-plonky music.

Emily is caught up in the corridor by Tyra, who declares the Cassandra scene 'awkward'. They clumsily go on to reference the hospital being like high school again, and Tyra 'Mean Girls' us off a rundown of: 

- Jocks (orthopedic surgeons)

Look at that badass, sitting on the sill like that. And that other guy has a BACKWARDS BASEBALL CAP. Checkmate.

- Mean Girls (they go into 'plastics'. Come on, that's GOT to be a MG reference)

- All American Girl-Next-Door Types (O.B)

- True Geeks (Neurology)

- Rebels (E.R)

- Stoners (Anesthesia)

- Sanctimonious Church Goers (Peets? Is she saying Peets? Is that a thing? [NB: I was informed she's saying 'Peds', as in pediatrics. Thanks AmyKB!])

She also declares the surgeons to be a 'melting pot', which apparently means none of them get along. Oh, come on, that's not what the song said. Apparently Tyra knows so much because she's the daughter of the Chief of Staff, and also a lesbian, which apparently according to her Dad is 'not the same thing' as a being a boy. Well, duh. Oh, and Emily is not to trust her Dad, who will act nice but is really just trying to trim the herd of the weak-weaklings who want weak, girly things like FRIENDS.

Snap cut to CoS:

"I want to think of me not only as a boss, but as a friend."

Ruh-roh! We've been warned about your antics, Boyd Langton!

I miss Dollhouse.

I don't know if I need to bother learning his name, because they've only said it once and he's just sort of talking about how he and all sevenish interns - indeed all doctors - are gods and looking out of his giant wall-sized window at all the tiny ant people down, down there on the hospital floor. 

We're warned by Tyra in a whisper to Emily that her Dad 'leans towards the grandiose' and that we should prepare ourselves, which is a bit of an overstatement because I was then expecting him to hurl himself out of the GIANT window or for their resident Doc to come rappelling down from the ceiling and smash through the GIANT window. None of that happens. He just introduces them to Dr Micah Barnes (Resident) and their attending doctor, Gina Mendari of the - sigh - percutaneous valve replacement fame. God dammit, Tyra, talk about an anti-climax.

Dr Gina looks like a hardass, by the way, and Emily and Cassandra exchange a weird look as she's introduced, a strange sideways smug glance. It's weird.

They all scamper after Dr Mendari's "We're walking", and she bitches about how none of the interns are allowed to speak to her and that they have to keep her patients alive and address all concerns to Micah who will bring them to her if (the horror!) really necessary. What a bitch. She even rolls her eyes a little bit as she says it. She goes on about how their pagers are their lifeline (Beep! That'll be important in a minute) and when they're paged they have sixty seconds to appear and yes, she has a timer. From over her shoulder, Dr Micah instructs Emily to breathe, with an adorable little smile. I like him.

The interns traipse into the room of 'Julia', a kid who was admitted after fainting for the second time in gym class. We don't get to hear the particulars because Emily gets supremely distracted studying Will's jaw and deeming it 'caress'-worthy. She's not distracted enough to not know the answer when Dr Mendari shocks her out of her reverie, though. She comes up with the right answer, that it was stress to the system, and gives Julia a reassuring little smile that Dr Mendari bitches her out over, because the interns are supposed to look at her all the damn time or something, I don't know what her problem was there.

Emily wins discharge paperwork for her right answer! Wait, she doesn't look very happy about it. I guess that's not much of a prize. The rest of the interns file out after Dr Mendari and Emily has a cute conversation with Julia about the boy she likes at school. The camera keeps cutting to Julia's mother, mostly just to remind us that she's there, since she only silently clutches her pearls and looks stricken and doesn't say anything except to tell her kid she's going to have a quick coffee break. Julia thanks Emily and then flatlines. D'oh!

Emily pinwheels off the walls and screams for a doctor, and it takes a nurse to remind her that she's a doctor. Good start, Em. She pulls it together pretty quick and runs the code. It takes a while and an 18 gauge needle to the heart to get Julia's monitor beeping again, at which point Dr fucking Mendari blusters in all 'What the hell happened in here?', like maybe if you stuck around literally two and a half minutes you would have known, Dr P. Valve Replacement. Emily rattles off a bunch of medical jargon I don't care enough about to transcribe, then staggers out of the room to the applause of most of the other interns. I say most because obviously Cassandra is standing there with major bitch-face and her hands rammed in her pockets while the others applaud. Emily runs her hands through her hair and laces her fingers at the top of her head in relief, and fucking Cassandra is all "Now I remember why we called you Pits!" Because Emily has sweaty underarms after saving that twelve year old girl's life. Yeah, good one, Cassandra. You really showed her up.

Plinky-plonky 'ruh-roh!' music leads us into the next scene, where Emily is desperately searching for something and monologuing to herself about how much of a bitch Cassandra is. Turns out Emily's looking for her pager, which has gone missing and which she's sure Cassandra has hidden. I hope she hasn't, because that's not just bitchy, that's dumb and puts patients at risk. Oh, why am I applying logic to Cassandra. Fucking Cassandra.

Emily blunders around for a bit cursing Cassandra before the reception nurse alerts her to the fact that she's been paged to the ER, where a couple of brothers are coming out of ambulances. One of them is in much worse shape than  the other, who has a neck tattoo and is bemoaning the fact that he was drinking the night before, not this morning and he didn't feel drunk, dammit! Apparently his blood alcohol levels don't agree.

We're only with the brothers long enough to get the exposition before Dr Mendari bitches into the scene and whizzes Emily away to Julia's room, where she's explaining that the kid has a heart condition and is going to need surgery. Emily and Julia have enough alone time to talk about Julia telling her crush how she feels and Julia throwing it right back at Emily re: telling Dr Will, along with some Twilight-inspired purple prose. 

On that, we cut to Emily being flagged down by Tyra in the hall. Tyra's found her pager behind a cushion in the lounge and asks Emily's help in return for hers. Tyra wants Emily to suss out if one of the doctors in plastic surgery is staring at her because she's interested in her or because she's the boss's daughter - in other words, she's asking a painfully awkward woman to be her wingman. Yeah, I'm sure that'll go great.

Speaking of painfully awkward! There's a quick scene with Emily and Will overseeing a scan, which basically consists of Emily trying to convince herself to tell him how she feels. She doesn't, of course, because she's Emily.

"If I touch his shoulder with mine and he doesn't move away, that means he likes me."
No, seriously, she said that.
Oh look, it's Neck Tattoo again. He's being wheeled into the hallway when the heavily pregnant wife of his brother appears, tearfully asking after her husband. He looks guilt-stricken as he tells her he's in surgery, and she barely spares him a glance before looking to Will and repeating her question. He leads her off while Neck Tattoo declares that he ought to be on the operating table because his brother is 'the good one'.

Cassandra fucking Kopleson breezes by with: "Heard you found your pager, Pits." Despite trying to keep herself from 'baiting the beast', Emily goes after to confront her about the whole missing pager thing, which Cassandra snittily denies being responsible for. They can't really get into it because Micah appears, herding them off to the room of an elderly Alzheimer's patient who needs surgery but can't have it because she's not fit to give consent, and her daughter left. That's a problem because no one can read the surname of the signature she gave when she signed her mother in. Really, show? A bunch of doctors can't decipher messy handwriting? Anyway, our patient is stuck approx. fifty years ago, when her daughter was nine, so she's not much help in tracking her down, but she does disappear out of the room while Emily and Cassandra get snotty with each other when the pager issue is brought up again. It ends up with Cassandra calling Emily 'Crunt'. I don't know, I'm tired now. This show is making me tired.

Weird wacky salsa-esque music follows the two 'doctors' into the hallway as they panic quietly in the wake of their lost charge.

Here's another fine mess you've got me into!

Smash-cut to black! Wacky!

Cassandra bails to deal with her other cases when her pager goes off, leaving Emily in the lurch. Luckily, Micah leads Mrs Elish out of the very same lift Emily just called, but then Dr Mendari appears out of the opposite lift all 'What's the meaning of this?' but Micah saves Emily's behind by making up a story about Mrs Elish wanting to take a walk and Emily accommodating.

We cut to Tyra walking the hallway with her dad, who is passive-aggressively reminding her not to be late for dinner with the Robertson's. I guess that's all we're getting because Tyra hangs back to shoot him snarky, long-suffering looks before being distracted by the redhead in Plastics and subsequently hunting down Emily from where she's phoning around in her hunt for Mrs Elish's daughter. Despite her reservations, Emily allows Tyra to herd her towards the reception desk and into inevitable humiliation. Seriously, cringing a bit at the horrible prospects of this conversation.

It goes thusly:

Emily: I'm Emily.

Jessica: Jessica.

Emily: Where're you from?

Jessica: Wisconsin, originally.

Emily's brain: Do not mention cheese. Do not mention cheese.

Emily: I really love cheese.

Awkward pause.

Emily: I just moved here so I'm still getting to know the place. Like, um, what do you do on the weekends?

Jessica: I dunno, hang out, I guess.

Emily: Yep. There's a lot to do. Hiking, skiing, hittin' up bars... Speaking of bars, do you go to straight ones or gay ones?

Jessica gives her the stink-eye for a few torturous seconds before saying that she frequents straight bars, and even if she didn't, Emily wouldn't be her type. She adds a viperous 'loser' as she walks away. My entire body unclenches. Emily miserably accepts some lab work from a nurse and mouses away to give it to Drs Micah and Mendari, but before she has a chance it's pagers at dawn as Dan (Neck-Tattoo's brother) is in trouble and they wheel him away to the ER. His heavily pregnant wife claws at Emily's arm and whimpers for reassurance, which Emily gives to the best of her ability. She seems very concerned about a patient she hasn't even seen, I'm just saying.

Outside the ER, Emily and Will are watching the surgery. They have a conversation about how Micah has been resident for five years and is only now getting to do solo surgery, and it's obvious Emily is kind of blown away by that little reveal. Will gives her a smouldering pep-talk that ends with 'You have the most amazing hands.' Weird. Emily chokes on telling Will she likes him again.

In Neck-Tattoo's (seriously, still don't have a name for him) hospital room, Emily is delivering the good news to brother and wife that Dan will be just fine. Heavily-Pregnant Wife relaxes for about three seconds before launching herself at Neck Tattoo and delivering a slapping and having to be pulled off him and escorted out of the room. Emily scampers to help Neck Tattoo with the collar of his hospital gown and notices the seat-belt bruise over his chest is entirely in the wrong direction for someone who claimed to be driving, and puts two-and-two together to uncover that Perfect Dan the Law Student was actually driving the car. Neck Tattoo freaks out and tells Emily that since Dan is the first one in their family to go to college and is interviewing for the DA's office he wasn't driving the goddamn car, okay?

Aaaand we're out by a nurse's station again to be alerted to the presence of Mrs Elish's daughter, who as it turns out isn't much interested in being Mrs Elish's daughter anymore, due to the fact that her ailing mother is nothing at all like the woman she knew growing up and needs constant care, all the while not knowing who her daughter is. It's a nicely acted bit, but falls a bit flat because we've only met Mrs Elish the once. Emily looks like someone shot her puppy.

Fucking Cassandra corners Emily as she's walking to ask her why the hell the daughter hasn't signed the consent forms. Turns out Emily hasn't given them to her, and doesn't intend to until she figures out how to convince her to 'do the right thing', which is kind of gross and not her job. 

Oh, we're moving on. Or back, to Julia. She's asking for romantic advice from Emily, which made me snort into my wine glass. Oh, cute, Julia has a date with her crush, Cody. See that, Emily? The twelve year old is better at owning her feelings than you are. That's a problem. 

The most emotionally mature person in the room.
Julia hasn't had her operation yet and asks Emily to do it, who declines as gently as she can, citing the need for Julia to have someone experienced do her surgery. She relents when Emily says she can probably ask to have her in the room when it happens, but turns out that's not the case because Dr Mendari has an absolute shit-fit over the prospect and tells Emily she might never ever be in an OR because Dr Mendari is seriously pissed. It got real, y'all. Dr Mendari and her perfect hair stalk off to be cold towards some other twelve year olds, I guess. Will appears to call her a rockstar and gives her a lingering hug and even that isn't enough to jolt Emily into telling him she likes hi-- Oh, wait, okay. She does tell him.

Argh. She actually does an articulate and adorable job of telling him. Aaand then, oh god it's awful, then he tells her he doesn't see her like that. I bury my face in my hands and whimper at the Awkward. Emily hastily backtracks and says of course they can be friends and how she just needed to get it off her chest and oh god oh god. We smash to black on her rigidly forced smile.

Dr Micah rescues Emily from her post-Will stairwell breakdown chocolate feast and marches her down the corridor pointing out how people with suddenly only one leg and three-month long colostomy bags and imminent cancer diagnoses probably have it worse than she does. That manages to get her to stop feeling sorry for herself and back to work, minus the Ring Dings she had stashed in her pocket. I'm English, so I had to look up what a Ring Ding was. They look tasty. Now I'm hungry.

Oh, we finally get to see Dan the Lawyer Applicant to the DA's Office! He's in a neck brace and doesn't earn his SAG card because he doesn't say anything. He gets a bit watery-eyed when Emily talks about Neck Tattoo taking the fall for him, though.

Mrs Elish's daughter is pissed, having finally tracked down Emily to that one hallway we see all the time. She should have saved her time and just stayed there. Emily preaches a bit, but she's cut off by fucking Cassandra, who just got awesome. She tells Emily to mind her damn business because she's got no idea what Mrs Elish's daughter is going though. Cassandra, though, does - her brother had cystic fybrosis growing up, and there was a hospital bed in their living room and she couldn't have friends over for fear he'd catch a cold, etc. She really sells it when she says that she'd do anything for one of the little moments when her brother felt better, and that even though Mrs Elish might not know her daughter all of the time, she does love her all of the time, and Cassandra knows that because the whole time Mrs Elish has been in the hospital, she's been looking for her daughter. It's a nice scene.

Turns out Mrs Elish's daughter thinks so too, because she decides to go back to her mother. Cassandra and Emily are watching from the doorway, and apparently the dopey 'd'aaaw' look on Emily's face is exactly why Cassandra didn't tell people about her brother in high school. She also proclaims herself to be a bitch, and Emily agrees, which Cassandra thanks her for. These people, y'all. Emily finds out that the reason Cassandra was such a bitch to her in high school was because she was jealous of her. To which: snort. Okay. If you like.

Anyway, it's a weirdly nice moment, interrupted by Emily's pager. Oh look, she's observing Dr Mendari during Julia's surgery!

Emily mind-waffles about how there's always a curtain between the body and the face of a patient because doctors are supposed to dissociate themselves and concentrate on organs rather than personality. I don't think Emily is very good at doing that.. Dr Mendari interrupts my musing to ask Emily a bunch of questions which she nails, then 'What are we having for dinner tonight?' Emily suggests thai, but Dr Mendari says she's wrong. They're having Italian. She almost smiles.

I don't get it. Are they going on a date? Are they friends now? Or do doctors all sit around after a surgery and eat together?

On second viewing, it's possible she said 'What am I having for dinner tonight', which would be weird but I guess makes more sense.
Dr Mendari huh's at Julia's open chest cavity and asks for some suction. Shit gets real all of a sudden as Julia's heart starts squirting blood (seriously, it's gross) and her vitals drop and all the alarms go off. SUDDENLY, DR MENDARI ORDERS EMILY TO HELP HER. I'm not sure why, seriously. It consists of Emily putting her finger on a valve which any of the others could have done. Maybe they're busy doing other things now. Dr Mendari sews up the tear, makes an incision somewhere else to allow the fluid to drain, and Julia's BP comes back up, and congratulates Emily on a job well done. I scratch my head and look puzzled. Dr Mendari reaches her hand over Julia to offer Emily a fist-bump, but Emily grabs the fist and shakes it instead. Oh, Emily.

Wrapping up the B storyline, we see Dan's pregnant wife telling Emily that Dan has turned himself in for being behind the wheel, then weirdly asks Emily for advice on how to handle Neck Tattoo.

Emily suggests an 'I'm sorry', which Tyra immediately supplies in the next scene, because apparently Emily is now known among all the nurses as a predatory lesbian for the conversation she had with Jessica. That feels like it happened a loooong time ago. Tyra basically tells Emily she doesn't look cool, then peaces.

The elevator is full of people! Instead of taking one of the hundred or so other elevators, Emily goes for the stairs, where she busts in on Jessica and Tyra's dad making out. It's weird, they're not actually kissing, Jessica is just sort of hovering near his mouth. Emily bolts.

Dr Micah says bye to Emily, then goes into room 501 to break the news to the cancer patient who turns out to be his Mum. Grim.

Emily inner-monologues about how when you're an adult your'e supposed to have all the answers, but how it's really no different to being a kid because you have the same insecurities, you just feel more insecure about them because you're not supposed to be anymore. I think.

She walks home via the school fence and mauls her stethoscope a bit for the express purpose of that blonde kid from the teaser to turn up and proclaim her 'pretty cool' for being a doctor. Full circle, y'all!

As she heads off, she eyeballs Cassandra who's flirting pretty heavily outside the hospital with Will. Emily shakes her head, proclaims things 'have to get better than this, right?' and goes on her merry way.

Emily Owens M.D might not be a must watch for me based on this premiere, but I'm not completely blah about it. I give it a six out of ten with an option to trade up once it finds its feet a little. Oh, and if anyone is wondering, it takes six hours to recap a forty minute show, and now my fingers are bleeding.



  1. she says "peds" with a long e, which is what the Pediatrics dept is called for short. :)

    1. Well THAT makes much more sense. Thanks for the translation!