Off The Map TV Review

I have a strong suspicion that ABC has a hit on their hands, but don’t take that for positive regard. Off the Map is being pushed heavily as “from the producers of Grey’s Anatomy,” and that’s about all the review anyone needs. However, that may need a little more explanation.

There is some variety among Grey’s Anatomy fans, and while those who can’t stand Grey’s at all know exactly where they are, the fans could probably use a little more guidance. Long story short, there are those fans who think Grey’s Anatomy has slowly become more and more goofy over time, reaching the point where it is mostly unwatchable now, and then there are those who think the show has gotten better and better.

For those who believe Grey’s has tumbled into the realm of not only corny nonsense, but self-mockery, proceed with extreme caution here. For those in the opposing camp, prepare to clear your calendar of all Wednesday night activities for at least the near future. (Their shop is already filled with a full line of items from CafePress.com, so get your credit card out now.)

Dr. Lily Brenner (Caroline Dhavernas), who I suppose works out to “Rainforest Grey,” and a selection of other young doctors arrive in a tiny town in the heart of the South American jungle. They’re here to work at a small clinic founded by Ben Keeton (Martin Henderson), aka McOutback… or something, who was the youngest Chief of Surgery at UCLA. The small, hopelessly underfunded operation does its best to help the surrounding community, while, according to Keeton, teaching young doctors more in a week than they would learn in a year of residency at a big hospital.

There isn’t any high-tech medical equipment, and you’re unlikely to get experience in gun shot wounds, or in treating victims of a 10-car pile up, but it’s in a tropical setting, and every character comes with more emotional baggage than any dozen “normal” people would dare dream of having. The series premiere is filled with sweaty T-shirts, frustrating run-ins with those cantankerous locals and their lack of interest in being treated, and an utterly laughable side trip to accommodate a non-dieing man’s wish to do something that didn’t remotely need to happen right this second.

Along with several other doctors, and the inner turmoil and propensity for intensely dramatic looks they bring with them, there is also a local lad, Charlie (Jonathan Castellanos), who serves as a guide through the local terrain. He is on the show because there is a chart somewhere which says that this adds some level of cutesy charm to the whole affair, and that pretty much sums up the show. It is a TV series created utterly by algorithm, and Rachelle Lefevre is on the show for exactly the same reason as everyone and everything else – our banality program predicts a certain percentage chance you’ll watch.

On the other hand, I can’t really fault any of the actors, yet, and as far as guilty pleasure go… it’s certainly pretty.

Grey’s Anatomy fans, meet your new favorite show.

On yet another hand, there is some chance that this show may take a run at the opposite slope Grey’s is obviously on, if for no other reason than it may be forced to onto far different roads. While I suppose there could be a landslide here and there, or drug cartels could mow down a large group of jungle residents, it seems far less likely that the writers will be able to simply blow something up whenever they run out of ideas. Also, at some point it is going to stretch plausibility beyond even these bounds if new people keep showing up when we get bored and want to spin some new drama into the mix, so we may have to think about actually developing the ones we have in some regard or other.

Thus, there is hope that this may be forced to settle into something worth watching by virtue of its own set up, and it is almost guaranteed to be around long enough for us to find out. But, that leaves us with a new spin on Tony Danza’s timeless question, “How do we get fresh apples?” Because, it’s hard to guess if the people who watch this show, will watch that show, or if the people who want to watch that show, will suffer through this one.

It will be interesting to see how we Spin-Off from this one, and whether or not we take Charlie into civilization with us.

Executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice”) and creator Jenna Bans (“Grey’s Anatomy”) bring to viewers an uplifting medical drama that explores how far one has to go in order to truly heal.

Welcome to “la ciudad de las estrellas” (the city of stars), a tiny town in the South American jungle which has one understaffed, under-stocked medical clinic. That’s where idealistic young Dr. Lily Brenner just landed, along with fellow doctors Mina Minard and Tommy Fuller. All of these young doctors are running away from personal demons, but they aren’t the only ones with emotional baggage. Take the legendary and enigmatic Ben Keeton, who was the youngest Chief of Surgery at UCLA. He walked away from it all to found the clinic. Together with his right-hand doctor, Otis Cole, the mysterious Dr. Ryan Clark and local doctor Zita Alvarez, he’ll teach the newcomers how to save lives in the most challenging environment they’ve ever worked in — while taking them on adventures of a lifetime.

In this ensemble drama, six doctors who have lost their way will go to the ends of the earth to try to remember the reasons why they wanted to become doctors in the first place.

“Off the Map” stars Jonathan Castellanos as Charlie, Valerie Cruz as Zitajalehrena Alvarez (Zee), Caroline Dhavernas as Lily Brenner, Jason George as Otis Cole, Zach Gilford as Tommy Fuller, Mamie Gummer as Mina Minard, Martin Henderson as Ben Keeton and Rachelle Lefevre as Ryan Clark.

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Marc Eastman
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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