I was hoping to write about the NBC medical drama “Heartbeat” for some time, in hindsight I probably waited too long.
But in my defense, a couple of things came up: my wifey’s double knee surgery and recovery came first, and second, I was in the middle of reading a book that had a little something to do with “Heartbeat.”
I’ll explain the book part more in a second, but in case you missed the show when it aired this Spring, here’s a little background:
“Heartbeat” stars Melissa George as gifted, rule-breaking heart surgeon Alex Panttiere. She may be a young doctor who cares desperately about her patients, runs roughshod over subordinates and bosses alike, and walks and talks very, very fast. She’ll do whatever it takes to save her patients, no matter what.
But the day-to-day pressures of her career share time with a sort-of love triangle, involving Alex’s relationship with her doctor boyfriend (Dave Annable) and her surgical mentor (Don Hany) who shows up in her life a decade after he left her for another job.
If that wasn’t enough, Alex’s juggling act doesn’t end there. She’s also raising two kids she had with her ex-husband (Joshua Leonard), a rock star who left her for another man years ago. And of course Alex does all she can to drive her boss (Shelley Conn) crazy, by constantly breaking hospital rules.
If you follow TV news then you probably already know that “Heartbeat” was cancelled recently by NBC. The news pissed me off because I thought the series was just starting to click on all fronts.
I liked “Heartbeat” right off the bat because I’ve liked Melissa George since I saw her in the highly underrated “30 Days of Night.” Because of her I was able to like and root for Alex Panttiere from the moment she was introduced saving the life of a guy who stole her seat on a plane.
I also liked that Alex still had a good relationship with her ex husband, and that he had a good relationship with the man in Alex’s life. It was even nice to see that the kids treated Alex’s boyfriend (Dave Annable) as part of the family.
I think par of the reason the show failed to grab an audience was the love triangle stuff. I think viewers probably compared all the relationship stuff to “Grey’s Anatomy,” and they didn’t like what they saw. But you know what? I thought “Heartbeat” was better than Grey’s for one important reason: because unlike “Grey’s Anatomy,” NBC’s “Heartbeat” never lost its sense of humor.
Sure, “Heartbeat” had emotional episodes, some sad times, and not all of the patients made it. But the show was never as dark or as sad as “Grey’s Anatomy” has become over the last several years.
I was a fan og Grey’s in the early years, but there’s just so many shootings, place crashes, and major character deaths/departures one can take.
Another reason that perhaps led to the cancellation of “Heartbeat” was that it was only loosely based on its source material. Remember that book I mentioned at the top of this post? Well, the book in question is called “Heart Matters” and it was written by real life heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato.
The book follows Magliato’s path from her family’s small farm in a town in upstate New York, to one of the world’s top cardiothoracic surgeons. The book details her years in medical school and her training, and the obstacles the shad to overcome in the medical field for simply being a woman.
Doctor Magliato’s book is amazing, and the best book I’ve read this year so far. And while there are many similarities between the book and the tv show, I fell like the show runners left a lot on the table. Had they stuck a little closer to the good doctor’s life experiences, “Heartbeat” would have stood out among the crowded field of medical dramas on tv today.