Can Ryan Eggold rejuvenate medical dramas the way Max Goodwin intends to rejuvenate New Amsterdam hospital?
I'd like to think he can.
New Amsterdam Season 1 Episode 1, while admittedly suffering from a heaping dose of pilotitis, proves as much. It's another medical drama, yes, but it's refreshing and has so much heart. It can potentially be one of the best offerings this Fall if viewers allow it.
The premise at first glance put most in the mind of Fox's breakout medical hit The Resident, but honestly, after that first installment, it feels more similar to ABC's breakout medical drama The Good Doctor.
New Amsterdam is delightfully hokey. It'll probably catch some flack for it too.
Yes, it has Ryan Eggold and his beautiful Bassett Hound eyes asking colleagues and patients how he can help with sincerity. There are a plethora of lines like "nobody ever asked me that before," or "they're not just going to let you help people" that hit a few high notches on the cheese factor.
Some of Max's retorts sound ripped from a greeting card or self- help book.
You know, we all feel like the system is too big to change, but guess what? We are the system, and we need to change. So, just tell me what you need, what your patients need, and I don't care if it's not covered. I don't care if the board says no; let's get into some trouble. Let's be doctors again.Max
But, you know what? So what! New Amsterdam is in the business of giving us feels, and that's what it did. No wonder it's a This is Us chaser.
There may be someone out there rolling their eyes at the cheese factor and Max's earnest, chronic bleeding-heart approach, but frankly, the world would be a better place if people didn't immediately scoff at anything do-good and feel-good.
And Max Goodwin is a do-gooder. He's the champion for the little guy. He's wholesome, determined, passionate, kind, and firm.
They say you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat others -- that a person who is nice to you but rude to the server is not a good person.
Max is a good person. His first real introduction consisted of him listening to the "little people" gossip about him (in Spanish), and it was hamfisted.
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the country and NYC is one of the most diverse cities in the world. The staff was bold as heck to be gossiping about the new director in the locker room.
They either assumed Max didn't speak Spanish, or they didn't pay him any mind. Who would ever expect the medical director to be slumming it in the locker room with the commoners?
Fortunately, Max responded with that earnest, genuine, considerate quality that would carry through the rest of the hour. That scene set off Max being kind; his speech, however, showed that he is firm and means business.
How can I help? [Silence] Sorry, uh, that's not a trick question. I'm really just asking. I work for you so you can work for your patients. How can I help? Really, no one? Well, let's try this. Everyone in the Cardio department, raise your hands. Don't be shy, get 'em up there. Great. Great, thank you. You're all fired. Any department who puts billing above care no matter how much you make for this hospital, you will be terminated. Oh, I am serious.Max
He certainly knew how to make a splash and get everyone's attention, didn't he? If New Amsterdam wanted viewers to smirk or giggle in glee when Max fired a bunch of self-absorbed doctors leading to them stalking off and phoning their lawyers, it succeeded.
New Amsterdam is a hopeful series. At its core, it captures the disillusionment of patients seen as numbers and problems rather than people. Many of the doctors and staff are as frustrated as patients and disillusioned by the system, too. It doesn't dwell in it, but rather tackles it with heartwarming positivity and charm.
Max has a solid group of medical professionals around him who share his passion even if it took a minute for them to get there.
Iggy was the first to jump on board. His willingness to dive all in spoke to his long-term frustration. That hit home with his case with Jemma.
Medical dramas that remember to include a character who is in the Psych department are the best. Iggy is the best. He already stands out as a favorite.
He seems as though he'll often struggle between what's ethical and what's right. Who would propose keeping a teenage girl who has been repeatedly abused for two years until she's legally an adult?
Better yet, who would use a girl's journal to connect her to her favorite foster parent's daughter?
Max's experience with Floyd was amusing. They could have started off on the wrong foot and never recovered, but not only did Floyd understand why Max fired the entire Cardio department, but he also admitted he would've done the same.
Floyd seems like a decent guy who tries to work within the frame of the system as best as he can. Max recognized that seconds into their conversation. It was adorable when he kept unpacking Floyd's belongings while Floyd was packing.
Max: I'm unfiring you.
Floyd: To do what?
Max: To run the Cardiac Surgical department.
Floyd: there is no Cardiac Surgical department.
Max: Then build one. A good one. I mean it's only people's hearts we're talking about.
As for Floyd and his relationship with Lauren? That falls into undecided territory for now. They seem to like one another, but Floyd's cultural quibble may interfere.
Doesn't it seem as though there is more to his reluctance other than the racial component? Floyd comes across as though he's wound a little tight and Lauren is not.
Lauren is the type whose personal life is an utter disaster, but she kicks ass at her job. From her catching that the woman was still alive, to everything with the Liberian patient, to her proposal to get rid of the waiting room, Lauren is a spitfire.
She's not afraid to take risks and give her all to her patients and the job. My heart went out to poor Elan who was being used by ISIS unknowingly. He was just a kid.
I was so happy that Max didn't write him off or allow the agents to do the same, and Lauren's devotion to that kid was remarkable. That's where she and Max will get along well.
Then there is Kapoor. He stood out too, but mostly because that resident was quick to assume he was not in his right frame of mind while treating his patient. Did anyone else pick up on his absentminded professor vibe?
Kapoor: If I continued treating her for Parkinson's, she would have had another cardiac arrest and died. By taking my time by slowing down I bought her another year or two.
Max: How can I help?
Kapoor: When she wakes up you can help me tell her she's going to die.
It was apparent he was incredible at his job regardless of how scatter-brained he came across. Any doctor who is willing to walk through your entire life story so he can figure out what's wrong with you is a damn fine doctor.
The case was heartbreaking. Every diagnosis that poor woman received was worse than the one before. Max using his charm to get the woman home so she could live out her last days with her family made me emotional.
Max's best interaction during the hour was with Helen. Ryan and Freema already have fantastic chemistry. It's easy to anticipate their interactions the most.
Helen is the hospital's money woman. She is always on the go, in that sense she has a kinship with Max who is like a live wire bouncing around the hospital with all the energy of Tigger.
It's easy to misconstrue Helen's dismissive behavior as her being callous and cold, but that wasn't the case. Max saw something in Helen early on, and he was determined to get her on his side.
Helen's passion came out while she was making the media outlet rounds advocating for the hospital. So, we could tell Helen loves some part of her job.
Max: I didn't think you were coming back here.
Helen: Neither did I.
Max: So much death here. It got to you, didn't it?
Helen: No, I became immune to it, which is even worse.
Max: Why did you come back?
Helen: Because of you. People were excited, Max. For the first time in a long time, people are excited again. I want to be excited too.
Why not bring that same passion to New Amsterdam where she can focus on healing patients?
Helen said she grew to be too detached, but Max has the entire hospital buzzing with excitement, so she wants to be stationary and experience that same feeling.
It felt right having Helen be the one to know about Max's cancer. It doesn't seem like he's hiding it per se. He didn't mind having Lauren do a throat biopsy.
It's hard to say if his wife knows anything about it though. Did anyone get the impression it was something he may have dealt with before? When Helen told him, he didn't seem the least bit surprised.
Between cancer and the devastating tale of how he lost his twin sister, there is a lot that could bog Max down. He takes everything in stride though. His background with his sister is what drives him, and something tells me cancer won't slow him down as much as it would others.
The most rattled Max was the entire hour was when his wife told him something was wrong with the baby. What is the state of his relationship with Georgia? What does he have to make up to her?
Helen: You need to slow down.
Max: Yeah, I get that a lot.
Helen: You have cancer. Squamous Cell Carcinoma, but you knew that, didn't you? How can I help?
He has cancer, a new baby named after his sister on the way, and he has taken on this hospital. I'm exhausted for the man. That was a hell of a first shift, wasn't it?
So, will you check in New Amsterdam for the rest of the season? Will you open yourselves up to enjoying this feel-good medical drama? How do you feel about Max and the others? Hit the comments below!
If you missed the premiere and you need to catch up, you can watch New Amsterdam online here via TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.