Heartland, an original one-hour medical drama about an organ-transplant
surgeon, his work and his family premieres on June 18th, 10 ET/PT on TNT.
The surgeon, Dr. Nathaniel Grant (Treat Williams), is the pioneering,
workaholic chief of the renowned (and fictitious) St. Jude’s Transplant
Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Regrettably, Heartland is an original series in name only, since it borrows
liberally from features of several popular TV shows. It combines House’s
brilliant, but idiosyncratic and flawed doctor of desperately ill patients
with Grey’s Anatomy’s focus on the doctors’ melodramatic and intertwining
As in House and Grey’s Anatomy, the surgeons in Heartland only have one or
two patients per episode and have endless time to sit in their patients’
rooms, hold their hands and watch them sleep. If only…
Also, Heartland capitalizes on the phenomena of “seeing dead people,” à la
Medium, et al. Specifically, Dr. Grant briefly sees the deceased organ
donors occupying the bodies of his recipient/patients, similar to the
closing shots of the murder victims in Cold Case.
Dr. Grant’s devotion to his patients and his intense commitment to his
cutting-edge work has caused the end of his marriage to Kate Armstrong (Kari
Matchett), who is also the organ donor coordinator of his transplant unit.
Or perhaps it was Grant’s affair with young Nurse Jessica (Morena Baccarin)
that did in the marriage.
Inexplicably, Grant and Kate continue to work together at St Jude’s, despite
their volatile relationship, as does Grant’s girlfriend, Nurse Jessica.
Further complicating the relationship between Grant and Kate are their
child-rearing responsibilities to their teenage daughter, Thea (Gage
Rounding out the ensemble are two other transplant surgeons in the
unit—the young, green Simon Griffith (Chris William Martin), Thomas Jonas
(Rockmond Dunbar), who returns to St. Jude’s after 14 years and with whom
Grant shares an uneasy relationship, and Nurse Mary Singletary (Danielle
Nicolet). Dr. Bart Jacob, well played by Dabney Coleman, is Grant’s
crotchety but loveable mentor and is himself a transplant candidate.
In addition to the character introductions, the pilot and first episode
explore the transplant process: convincing the donors’ families to make the
donation, selecting appropriate recipients and the medical politics involved
in the selection, and finally, the difficult surgery and recovery.
Unfortunately, the predictable, trite and tear-jerking story lines and
scripts of these episodes of Heartland detract from the shows’ potential to
capture the dramatic and miraculous qualities of organ transplantation and
the extraordinary second chance at life it gives to the few fortunate