The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: NBC, Have Mercy on Me! (Or Better, Don’t!)

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageAs CC2k’s resident TV columnist I find it my duty to screen the vast amounts of possible television shows you, my readers, could be watching and to then sort out the good from the bad, the watchable from the skipable, the bearable from the abominable.
There is a reason this column ends with the “Recommended Collisions with your Television” after all.

Sure, I also talk about the established programs – where they go right, where they go wrong – but I try to include a lesser watched or new show on a regular basis in an effort to even out your TV diet.

As it is customary, Fall TV not only brings back our favorite shows, it also brings us new shows networks saw fit to produce. One of these new shows is NBC’s Mercy this year, and boy, oh, boy, they’re not having a lot of mercy on us.

NBC has just ended its hit medical drama (at least for some years) ER. So it is only logical the network would try their hand at a new hospital-centered show. I don’t want to say Mercy is a total failure, but it comes pretty damn close to cringeworthy.

The premise is actually a valiant effort to be relevant: the central character is Veronica Callahan, a nurse who has just returned from duty in Iraq and is now working again at her old hospital in New Jersey. She suffers from PTSD, no surprise, and is a lot more bossy around doctors than she used to be, simply because she has seen the worst of humanity. She also drinks a lot more and realizes she is a borderline alcoholic, but somehow that is amusing and not worrying to her.

Now, I get how this screams “relevant” to studio bosses. Too bad though that Grey’s Anatomy already got the jump on the PTSD storyline in their character of Owen Hunt and are actually doing a brilliant job at a realistic portrayal of human behavior. (It helps that Kevin McKidd is also just a better actor than Taylor Schilling, who portrays Veronica, is an actress,  though she has room to grow.)

Where Mercy takes its biggest fall is in the supporting characters, who are but mere carbon copies of stereotypes. Right down to Michelle Trachtenberg as the inexperienced young nurse with the heart of gold.

Yeah, we all know by now nurses are the real heroes in the hospital, that point has been made a thousand times over. Actually, it was made this summer by Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. But I guess Mercy was already in production by the time Nurse Jackie aired and the guys at NBC exclaimed a hearty “D’oh” when they realized someone had beaten them to the punch.


Can’t you see our chemistry?

The most annoying thing about Mercy may actually be the romantic storylines that are thrown in. Veronica met someone in Iraq – a doctor, natch – and cheated on her husband with him, because the doc made her feel “so safe”. All together now: “UGH!” Now said doc has followed her to New Jersey in the hopes of them living happily ever after. “UGH!” But Veronica decides it makes much more sense to try and work it out with her husband, whom she has known since high school and who is a really sweet guy, who tries hard and loves her to death. “UGH!” But Iraq Doc is not gonna give up that easy. He has a contract at the hospital for two years and he will wait for her. “UGH!”

Honestly, everyone who has ever watched any TV can tell where this show is going. The dynamics between characters aren’t new, they aren’t even old with a twist. Two people who have been through a war together should behave towards one another with more genuine depth and less chick flick clichés than Veronica and Iraq doc do.
(And btw, the title is stupid anyway. Yeah, the hospital is called “Mercy Hospital”, but the theme of the show isn’t even in the same zip code as mercy. If you want to be clever and ambiguous with your title, at least give it some relation to the actual content.)

Like I said, the premise is a valiant effort to bring an important issue to the forefront of a TV show, but it all goes awry from there. (And one should think that exec producer and creator Liz Halden would know better, after all she is/was involved in the making of Friday Night Lights, one of the best sports/kids in high school shows of the decade.)

So, in conclusion, I hope that NBC has mercy on us and cancels Mercy rather soonish, before it does any permanent damage.



Recommended Collisions with your Television

(combine at will, all times EST, only new programming listed)


Tuesday, October 6th
 8 p.m.  NCIS (CBS)
 9 p.m.  Warehouse 13 (SyFy)
   NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
   So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
 10 p.m.
 The Forgotten (ABC)
   The Good Wife (CBS)
Wednesday, October 7th
 8 p.m.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
   New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS)
   Mercy (NBC)
   Hank (ABC)
 8:30 p.m.  Gary Unmarried (CBS)
   The Middle (ABC)
 9 p.m.
 Modern Family (ABC)
   Glee (Fox)
   Criminal Minds (CBS)
   Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
 9:30 p.m.  Cougar Town (CBS)
 10 p.m.
 Eastwick (ABC)
Thursday, October 8th  
 8 p.m.  Bones (Fox)
   Flash Forward (ABC)
   Vampire Diaries (CW)
   Community (NBC)
 8:30 p.m.  Parks and Recreation (NBC)
 9 p.m.
 Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
   The Office (NBC)
   CSI (CBS)
   Supernatural (CW)
   Fringe (Fox)
 10 p.m.  Project Runway (Lifetime)
   The Mentalist (CBS)
   Private Practice (ABC)
Friday, October 9th
 8 p.m.  Ghost Whisperer (CBS)
   Brothers (Fox)
   Law & Order (NBC)
   Smallville (CW)
 9 p.m.
 Dollhouse (Fox)
   Medium (CBS)
   Monk (USA)
 10 p.m.
 Psych (USA)
Saturday, October 10th
Sunday, October 11th
 8 p.m.
 The Simpsons (Fox)
 9 p.m.
 Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
   Dexter (Showtime)
   Family Guy (Fox)
   Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime)
 9:30 p.m.  Bored to Death (HBO)
 10 p.m.
 Mad Men (AMC)
   Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
   Army Wives (Lifetime)
   Cold Case (CBS)
   Californication (Showtime)
 10:30 p.m.  Entourage (HBO)
Monday, October 12th
 8 p.m.
 How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
   House (Fox)
   Heroes (NBC)
 8:30 p.m.  Accidentally on Purpose (CBS)
 9 p.m.
 Lie to Me (Fox)
   Gossip Girl (CW)
   Trauma (NBC)
   Greek (ABCFam)
   Two and a Half Men (CBS)
 9:30 p.m.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
 10 p.m.  Castle (ABC)
   CSI:Miami (CBS)