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