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Combat Hospital Review: Welcome to Kandahar

by at . Comments

There's always been something about war shows that I've been drawn to. As a kid, I couldn't get enough of M*A*S*H. Much later, I adored China Beach, so it's no surprise that I was quick to watch ABC's new summer drama, Combat Hospital.

The "series premiere" is set in a military hospital outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2006 and follows doctors and nurses from several Allied, English speaking countries. 

In Kandahar

We follow Canadian surgeon Major Rebecca Gordon as she arrives via military transport. You'd think that landing in the middle of a war zone would be the focus of her attention. Instead, she's trying to take a pregnancy test while they land.

I'm sure it's a hell of a long flight. Does she really have to wait for them to be doing evasive maneuvers while they land to perform that test?


That first scene tells me not to take Combat Hospital too seriously, although that doesn't mean it can't be entertaining.

The entire cast is very likable. Elias Koteas is the tough but fair Colonel Marks and I'm happy to see Luke Mably back on screen after The Gates. Will his civilian neurosurgeon Dr. Simon Hill be the Hawkeye Pierce of Combat Hospital? The pilot leads me to think so. Again, that isn't a bad thing, it's just that I don't think they'll be any surprises here.

The premiere gives us the cliched storyline of the wounded soldier who doesn't look like he'll make it but the doctors pull him through, only to have his buddy die from injuries that appear much less severe. 

Then we get the enemy soldier whose life is saved only to be whisked away by some Blackwater types, literally through a hole in the wall. Unfortunately, it feels as though we've seen this all before.

The one bright spot was the off base women's clinic set up in hopes of helping the local woman of Kandahar receive adequate health care. There's only a brief mention of it and then the storyline is pushed aside for a possible enemy attack, but it has potential to be a more interesting subplot. It gives me hope that this show can be better than its pilot.

Combat Hospital appears to be a light summer drama, where I was hoping for something more substantial. But if it's willing to be a little more creative and take some chances, there may be more story potential than we see here.  I'll be tuning in next week to find out.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
  • 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (124 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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I, also, loved China Beach so I really enjoyed Combat Hospital!!!
Please put it back on the TV lineup. The summer TV shows are boring & I refuse to watch the new shows. Combat Hospital, Lie to Me, The Firm, House should all remain on TV lineup!!!

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Regarding the tattoo--according to CF dress regs, it is not permitted to acquire a tattoo which is visible when wearing an open-collared shirt, but this came into effect April 2004, so anyone who had one prior to this date is not in violation (i.e. they did not acquire it after that date).

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I haven't seen the show because I am in Kandahar. Just wondering does the rocket fairy visit frequently?

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Quote: "Dave De Lancey
If the director and producer are confused about what is accurate and what is not I strongly urge them to hire CPT Dale Dye (USMC Retired) who has made his post military life assisting those in the film industry who don't accurately know." He could maybe help with the US military things, but I sincerely doubt he would be a good source for Canadian or British, Australian, military technical points. Also this show is filmed in Canada, it is a joint venture of the UK and Canada, therefore I highly doubt Mr. Dye would be asked to come in the first place. Quote "David
June 22nd, 2011 2:18 AM
especially at a combat base); the mix of British and American 'doctors'; The ode to the Canadian flag throughout, but it is a US base. A major (and female) with a tattoo of a star on her neck...not allowed in the service---This is SO BAD!" 1) KAF = Kandahar Airfield, is actually not a combat base per se.
2) Also it's NOT a US base, its a NATO base, which was in command from I believe 06-09 by Canadians.
3) There are also Australian and Canadian doctors.
4) In the Canadian Forces, you know the service that the fictional character; Maj Rebecca Gordon is in, that tattoo is within regs. We can also have tattoos on our hands, the only parts we're not allowed to have tattoos on is face/neck. Back of neck so long as covered when in uniform is within Regs.

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TELL YOU WHAT .THIS IS A TV SHOW NOT THE REAL THING, GIVE YOUR HEAD A SHAKE.TAKE THE SHOW FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT VALUE OR WATCH SOMETHING ELSE. THE CONSTANT WHINING ABOUT REALISM,WHO CARES.PEOPLE WATCH TV TO RELAX AND ENJOY THE MOMENT AND AS NORMAL TV VIEWER I DO NOT CARE IF THE HELO SOUNDS LIKE A MACK TRUCK OR A RACE CAR.
ANYWAY I ENJOY THE SHOW AND HOPE ITS AROUND FOR A WHILE.

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Less love, more war.

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This show is fucking retarded. Technical aspect is shite. The fucking asian prick wears his cover like an autistic toolbag. NO RANK ON THE COVERS OF THE US SOLDIERS AND NO DEPLOYMENT PATCHES AND WTF DID THAT FIRST SERGEANT FROM HELLS BELLS AT THE END CALL PRESENT ARMS? HE WAS LIKe "READY SALUT!" WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?

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Why can't they tone down the loud background noise so we can hear what the actors are saying. It's really a struggle trying to understand what is said. Would love the show if they could correct this.

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Almost all of the comments are true. This show is not CRAP but a good show needing a lot of technical assistance, advice, and set realism even in the slightest detail. I served in IRAQ under SOG a (Special Operations Group), then as a PMC (Private Military Contractor) for several years. Both characters were depicted in your first and second show. First of all, please don't depict PMC's or SOG's unless you have proper or near technical advice behind the scenes - and NO a tech advisor that has served in infantry or posh base gig while deployed simply won't do. Your character of JOE was simply embarassing and if people thought we were really like that, I'd be embarassed to no end. NO one wears a shemagh front forward. its supposed to wrap your face and protect it from dust or sweat as it showers your face from 45 degree heat. KAF set is pretty close from a footage point of view but really.. I could critize on and on but the other threads on this site have already done that. If you want a bang for your buck, spend a little time on set detail and accuracy on uniforms, weaponry, handling, and DUST. LOTS and LOTS of DUST. Everyone in the show seems to have clean and prestine uniforms. Even the guns are super new and unworn. PLEASE have your extras get a few minutes of real familiarization once it comes to weaponry handling and gear before they go on set. NO one RUNS to a helo (helicopter) with their fingers on the trigger. NO one locks and load their side ARM in an OR environment. MORE importantly, NO one walks into a secured base building with their MAGS loaded. Rankings are screwed and a female (Major) with the emotional imbalance, high school maturity and plain niativity such as Rebecca Gordon? really? Dr. Simon Hill is just another poorly portraited rip off character from Greys Anatomy and a poor job he does. It really cheapens the focus of the show and depiction of what REAL people serving their countries really go through. I think the ratings would go up a few notches if his character was hit with an IED. The rest of the cast specially Col Xavier, Cpt. Bobby Trang and Cmdr. Will Royal are the real emotionally entrenched characters that holdup the show. In addition to the set and technical advise, writing is also a weakness but thats not the only thing lacking. I'd attend your set just to advise you for free because its pain staking to watch but admire the effort. At the end of the day, we really do need a show like this and the effort is certainly commendable. It's been a long time since we've seen an attempt at a show like this and certainly differeniates it from the Grey's and Houses of the world. Hope this show takes reviewers advice with serious consideration. Afterall, its the viewers that determine if you're show will be worth renewing or dumping. Please feel free to contact me if you're interested in my offer.

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Why compare the show to the past? The show is good at it is and hopefully a reminder that there still troops in Afghanistan.

Combat Hospital Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Rebecca: You were right. Nothing prepared me for this place.
Marks: What can I say. Welcome to Kandahar.

Rebecca: I know what a combat landing is. I read the manual.
Flight crew: Did the manual say many of our passengers throw up?