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TCA press tour: Cast of NBC’s 'Mercy': Nurses rule!

August 5, 2009 |  4:59 pm

Mercy Yes, Edie Falco plays a nurse on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie." And yes, Jada Pinkett Smith also plays one on TNT’s “Hawthorne.”

But the producers of NBC’s upcoming nurses drama “Mercy” insist there’s room for more. And what’s more, there won’t be any overlap. Not too much.

Executive producer Liz Heldens described “Mercy” as a show about “a female friendship that is really grounded in reality.” The women are “rowdy, raucous and funny -- and funny together,” she said. “I think the focus of our show is different from the others.”

“Mercy” will be “character-driven and less science-driven,” Heldens added. It’s unclear whether or not the panelists have actually seen “Hawthorne” or “Nurse Jackie,” neither of which is reliant on hospital cases as the primary source of drama.

Lloyd Braun, who is an executive producer on the show, pointed out that "Grey's Anatomy," a series he green-lighted while he was a programming executive at ABC, was the umpteenth medical drama to go on the air. There was a debate internally at the network, he said, but ultimately executives became convinced that the characters in "Grey's" were "compelling."

All that matters, Braun said, is whether audiences will connect "to these characters and these stories at this time."

And even if there is some overlap, one of the series stars Michelle Trachtenberg said, it’s not a problem. “Yes, there is a lot of nurse stuff going on. Why not? These women are great. They are the backbone and heart of the medical field,” she said. “I think audiences are interested in them as real-life people.” Trachtenberg plays Chloe, one of the newer nurses in the hospital.

Taylor Schilling, who also stars, said, “If there was anyone that deserved to have a flush of attention on them, it’s nurses.”

Trachtenberg said she recently suffered a bee sting and told the audience that, in fact, a male nurse -- with a unicorn tattoo -- was the very first person to hold her hand. “He did the IV and made sure I was OK. So it’s that kind of human connection, that’s the best part of ‘Mercy.’”

“They really do pick up the pieces,” Helden said. “Most people remember their nurses, and it seemed like a really rich way into a hospital.”

-- Denise Martin

Photo credit: NBC Universal

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