I got interested in Northam a few weeks ago, when Netflix thrust The Tudors into my living room as a suggested distraction from my now eight-month banishment from the flames of the news apocalypse (I was laid off after a 14-year career as a print journalist for the second time in two years last August).
Northam’s portrayal of Sir Thomas More, a guy I probably wouldn’t like all that much in real life — even though I dig the whole stick-to-your-principals thing — just fascinated me.
More’s book Utopia, which I studied in college, has always struck me as the perfect setting to run away from. A society that denies rights for atheists and subjects them to constant prodding by the religious lot until they relent, or die of boredom, is not a society for me.
Not that I’m exactly an atheist, but as a pseudo-Taoist I’m not exactly conventional either. Then again, if I lived in the 1500s I probably wouldn’t have lasted long.
I realize the show’s not an accurate portrayal of history by any means, but Northam brought a depth to More that changed him from a stuffy guy I’d want to strangle into a interesting and imperfect human being that I wanted to know more about.
Northam’s certainly an actor that can carry a scene, and The Tudors seemed to lose a lot of sparkle after the king gave More the axe in the second season.
So, after finishing that story, I’ve been renting and instant viewing away at whatever other Northam films I can find to keep my distraction and newfound fascination alive.
I’m really not a fan of the whole period piece, romantic comedy, men in black tights thing — and Northam has done a lot of those. Forcing myself to watch a few of them, like The Winslow Boy and Possession, I admit Northam does a good job of bringing something different to all his characters, but films like that really don’t do much for me.
Mimic, unlike the frilly 1800s-type stories, I liked right out of the gate (and saw when it came out in 1997), even though I wish Northam would have kept his smooth British accent over the weird fake American one. I’m just a sucker for CDC, giant bug science fiction films.
And Cypher, which I just watched today, is plain superb — well acted with a very interesting plot, and a cool twist at the end.
I also just saw Northam’s portrayal of Dean Martin in Martin and Lewis from 2002, to which he really brings a lot of flair. And he also, in the process, proves that he can pull off a believable American accent.
Anyway, my little Northam media feast appears to have been timely, because dessert arrived tonight in the form of the launch of his new TV series.
I guess Miami Medical has been relegated to the scrappy and somewhat unfriendly time slot of 10 p.m. (or 9 p.m. Albuquerque time) on Friday nights. Because of that, most of the critics out there seem to think it’s destined to fail.
But I’m not so sure.
I did think some of the plot in the pilot episode was cliche: The pregnant woman in a car accident headed for the trauma unit, the whole glitsy “rock stars of medicine” thing and the swishy high-fiving by doctors.
But on the upside the show has a nice pace and the potential for some character study of people under high stress. It was certainly interesting to start with the head trauma surgeon flipping out, stripping all his clothes off and walking out of the ward.
Northam’s character, Dr. Proctor, doesn’t appear for the first third of the pilot, but once he shows up — working on a guy’s hand while wearing a T-shirt and jeans — and once the major characters start to interact and conflict with each other and him, you can see the show’s potential.
Proctor is a bit of a mystery man, with complex motives and a background that has yet to be revealed, and Northam’s a guy who can pull that off and pique your interest.
As a pilot, well, it was a pilot… I don’t think any pilot for any show, even my favorites’ NCIS and Criminal Minds, really blow you away as effectively as later episodes in a series do, once characters have been sketched out and actors get comfortable working with one another.
And so far as the Miami Medical pilot went, I’m certainly interested enough in Northam’s character to keep watching and see how the show develops.
I hope CBS didn’t put Miami Medical in that spot to kill it, but to watch it scrap its way to a better time slot. If nothing else it will be fun to see what Northam does with his role in the show.
So here’s to next Friday…
First published at http://explodingegg.com/2010/04/02/checking-out-miami-medical/
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