SAVED ON TNT

Okay. The new TNT paramedic show SAVED. So what do I think about it? First, here’s the link to My Hollywood Adventure, which details how the producers of the show had read my books in preparing the pilot for the show and how I was then asked to be a technical advisor/possible writer and how in the end they offered me less money than I make here, and I had no choice but to turn them down.

I have had mixed feelings about the show. On the one hand I want it to stink because they got me all excited about working on the show, and then seriously low-balled me on pay and how on the other hand, I want it to be a success because paramedics deserve a good show about them and the more interest in paramedicine the more people are apt to buy my books and the greater the chance I can get more books published.

I have now seen I think four of the six or seven episodes and my feelings remain mixed. Overall I have to say I am glad I am not working on it. I say these for five reasons.

1) There has been a big backlash against the show from paramedics who feel the show negatively portrays the profession. I would not want their venom directed at me.

2) There have been many scenes that from a medical point of view border on the ridiculous. Again, I wouldn’t want to have to defend those scenes.

3) There have been some comments about doctors that would lose me all of my doctor friends. Ditto above.

4) The show repeatedly skewers a fictitious company called NMR “the evil empire”, a company probably modeled(incorrectly) after the company I work for. Imagine my being on leave of absence from NMR to help a show that in a continuing plotline portrays NMR and all its employees as uncaring idiots. I lose my job and the friendship of all my coworkers.

5) If I worked on the show I wouldn’t be out here in the streets doing the real thing, which I love. I also wouldn’t be in the community or with the people I love. Hollywood would have been a good story, but I am where I belong.

Despite some deserved criticism, I do think some perspective on the show is necessary.

1) It is TV. You couldn’t do a show about what the job is really like and have it be interesting every minute. EMS is long stretches of boredom broken up by a few moments of excitement and sometimes chaos. Imagine a show about ambulances posting on street corners or doing emergi-fers – transfers disguised as emergencies because the nursing home policy is to call 911 even if the patient just has a clogged Foley catheter.

2) When I spoke at length with the SAVED people, the producer’s assistant said the show was a cross between Emergency and M.A.S.H. The producer said it was a character driven drama about a guy who’s life is out of control, and only his job saves him. So this is really just a show about “Wyatt” who happens to work in EMS. It is not intended to be a show about EMS as it really is. EMS is just the background.

3) Even the medical scenes need to be cut some slack. You may save a baby, but that save may take place over twenty minutes. That would cut out all the other scenes.

4) For all the guff about the medic being unshaven and in a tee-shirt and not using gloves, look around – he’s not the only one.

Okay, here’s what I have hated about the show;

1) The portrayal of NMR. I found the scene where the NMR people outside the gay bar were not going in until they had donned their Space suits was insulting not only to people at NMR but to any responder. The bit about defibrillating the dog was also stupid.

2) The medicine. The scene at the end of the first episode where he can’t decide whether the cardiac arrest patient is in V-Tack or an SVT with aberrancy and one medic suggests he give Verapamil. I wanted to say, hand over your certs so I can rip them up. The cardiac tamponade scene in an episode a week ago was also ridiculous. I could go on.

3) The hero, or anti-hero, Wyatt is hard to like. Despite the big speech he made at the end of one episode, unshaven face and unshined boots are not the ingredients of a good medic and clean-cut grooming and shined boots are not the ingredients of a horrible robot medic. Me, my boots need shining, my hair needs a trim, but it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not my medicine is any good. And even though my hair needs a trim and my boots need shining I would never deliberately cause an accident with the joyriders following the ambulance. You do that and any compassion you have for any human goes out the door.

And I have been wanting to say to the guy “So you have Daddy problems? Try growing up.” His father actually seems to be a decent guy. He loves his son and just wants a good life for him. Why can’t Wyatt see that? Then last night, his partner said to Wyatt, “What you need are real world problems.” What a great line. Exactly what I felt about the guy. Maybe he is just what the producers intended. Maybe we will see growth.

Now, here is what I have liked.

1) I like watching to see what they do right and what they do wrong. I was glad to see at around the 4th episode they finally started inflating the nonrebreathers.

2) The soundtrack is great.

3) They do some scene scenes pretty well.

4) I like some of the themes they are exploring – loyalty, the unexpected nature of life.

Now, let’s talk about last night’s episode – this is the one where the girl who needs the liver transplant dies, Wyatt’s partner is taking speed, the old lady thinks Wyatt is her husband, etc. What a great episode! Seriously, they did a lot of it really, really well. I loved the scene where they take the dying girl out to look at the sunset. This was really good writing. A nice show that aside from a baby in respiratory distress really didn’t have a lot of EMS action. (Wait, I just remembered the OD/arrest – still only two “big” calls.) The relationship between both sets of partners was well done. Anyone watching this show couldn’t help but come away impressed with paramedics, their compassion and the work they do. Bravo on many accounts.

I hope it keeps getting better and gets picked up for another season.

8 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Peter,I’m a big fan of your work, so I was waiting to see your comments on the show.I want to like this more than I do. But some stuff – not just medical – is so wacky and unbelievable that it makes the drama hard to take.For instance, a few episodes back, Wyatt and his parter respond to an attractive woman with a small dog. While they’re working on the dog, another crew comes up and hooks the dog up – and shocks the dog – with a defib. At that point, my wife, who is not interested in my world as an EMT said, “this show is terrible.”That said, each week I tune in, hoping for better..I do like the themes you mentioned, but the quality of the writing isn’t up to snuff.

  • PC says:

    I agree the dog shock was a low point. I think they lost a lot of viewers there.

  • Anonymous says:

    I always thought I saw hints of what you wrote in the show but I hope thats not going to offend you. There is alot the show doesn’t do right but going from nothing to this isn’t all that bad. They do enough that makes good TV that mabye the show will be given a chance to grow over time and become something really great.

  • kevin Paramedic A-EMCA says:

    I have only seen the first three and found some of the parts quite funny. So far I really enjoy the show. My only comment would be to the editing. Maybe you just need some more stock footage but the cuts from one ambulance to another are from time to time a little silly. There are 3 different classes of trucks and the same call can have the crew diving more than one kind and the lights many not match up. Still think that the show shows promise and with anyluck it will be watched by folks other than medics

  • Evan says:

    Peter,I’ve read and enjoyed your books and though I only have my Health Care Provider CPR card I’m a fan of and believer in paramedicine.As for “Saved”, I like the show because it’s better than a lot of the other stuff out there but it IS television. It’s designed to entertain and pull our heart-strings with all the human drama. Unfortunately paramedicine is just used as the hook to pull people in. Side thought: is “Shocking the Dog” the new “Jumping the Shark”?There is a show called “Paramedics” on Discovery Health channel. It’s in the style of Cops. It’s on at about 3am on the West coast so my DVR comes in handy.Roll on guys!

  • Snoop says:

    This is an old post, but I guess you get to see new comments coming in. Checkhttp://randomreality.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2006/10/16/2421127.htmlfor comments on Saved.I’ve referred him to your blog.

  • Snoop says:

    This is an old post, but I guess you get to see new comments coming in. Checkhttp://randomreality.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2006/10/16/2421127.htmlfor comments on Saved.I’ve referred him to your blog.

  • Anonymous says:

    As someone who started in EMS in 1976 and left 10 years later due to an injury, this show strikes me as a show that should have been set in the 1970’s. Tons of things that happen in the show really did happen then (Call jumping, small companies trying to hold onto contracts, no real uniforms, having sex on duty, etc). But by the early 1980’s things had really changed, at least in the SF Bay Area where I worked.Just my .02 worth.

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