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If you loved NBC’s ER, this new Max medical drama is the show for you

Published Mar 27th, 2024 10:20PM EDT
Image: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo BanK

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In the streaming era, what’s old is new again. HBO Max is poised to debut its own version of NBC’s classic medical drama ER — a sort of ER 2.0, if you like — in the form of The Pitt, a 15-episode project that reunites the creative team behind ER with star Noah Wyle also onboard for a show about “the challenges facing healthcare workers in today’s America, as seen through the lens of the frontline heroes working in a modern-day hospital in Pittsburgh.”

Max has so much faith in this release that it’s given a straight-to-series order to the show. Wyle, who as Dr. John Carter was very much the beating heart of ER, is both a star of and executive producer for The Pitt, while R. Scott Gemmill (who executive-produced more than half of the episodes across ER’s entire run) will be the showrunner here.

“The myriad challenges facing the doctors, nurses, technicians, patients, and their families who work in the trenches of modern medicine have become only more pronounced in the decade and a half since we last visited their stories,” reads a joint statement from Gemmill, Wyle, and co-executive producer John Wells. “We’re thrilled to be able to return to this world with the support of our partners and are looking forward to pushing the boundaries of dramatic realism and medical accuracy in following the lives of these heroic men and women.”

A couple of things stand out to me here. Eight episodes is starting to be the norm over on Netflix, while the 15 episodes Max is giving to The Pitt feels like a throwback to the broadcast TV era of seasons stretching well beyond that number. USA’s Suits, which lasted for nine seasons and 134 episodes and also found a new life on Netflix starting last year, is one example of the latter. Compare that to recent Netflix original releases — like The Law According to Lidia Poet, The Diplomat, and 3 Body Problem — all of which featured just eight episodes in their inaugural seasons.

Not to beat a dead horse with the ER comparison, meanwhile, but the other thing that jumps out at me is just how much it seems that the big streamers want to try and launch their own version of the NBC classic. To that end, Netflix also recently announced what feels like its own attempt at this same thing — Pulse, the streaming giant’s first procedural medical drama starring Willa Fitzgerald and Colin Woodell.

Netflix’s drama “will follow the staff of Miami’s busiest Level 1 trauma center as they navigate medical emergencies and their equally complex personal lives.”

Netflix may have been clued in to the appetite for this kind of show with the recent success of New Amsterdam, another NBC show that turned into a hit for Netflix and which was adapted from the book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Manheimer. It’s built around the character of Dr. Max Goodwin (played by Ryan Eggold) — a new maverick director at a fictional hospital that’s described as, in the context of the show, one of the oldest in the US.

As for Max’s upcoming drama, for which we don’t have a release date yet, head of Max original programming Sarah Aubrey said: “Collaborating with the visionary talents of John Wells, R. Scott Gemmill, and Noah Wyle to develop this new series has already been an exhilarating process. Their passion, creativity, and dedication to storytelling elevate every aspect of the project, and together, we’re poised to deliver a compelling and authentic portrayal of today’s medical world that will captivate audiences and leave a lasting impact.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.