“Life is measured here in split seconds; hesitate and people die.”
From the opening minutes of CBS’ new medical drama Code Black, the characters and narrative reveal this could be a bright spot among the 20 new broadcast TV shows debuting this fall.
Thrusting viewers into a real-world emergency room, it dramatizes the great lengths medical professionals go to save a single life — including one in the womb.
Created through a collaboration of former physician Ryan McGarry and writer/producer Michael Seitzman, Code Black takes place in a fast-paced trauma center in Los Angeles. In the ER, it’s known as “code black” when the volume of patients exceeds resources; then even first-day medical residents deal directly with patients’ life-and-death traumas.
Life-affirming moments shine through in the chaotic, intense pilot episode. Medical residents conflict over the best way to treat a nine-month pregnant woman, who appears to have flu symptoms.
After the young mother is released from the hospital, one doctor-in-training realizes it could be carbon monoxide poisoning. She ends up in an ambulance with the unconscious pregnant patient.
Stuck in LA traffic, the resident calls in and learns the ER is facing a “code black” status; she’ll have to deliver the baby by C-Section in the ambulance. “You’ve done an OB rotation, you’ve witnessed plenty of these,” her supervising physician says on the call.
With guidance from the experienced doctors by phone, who continue their life-saving efforts on other patients near death, ultimately the sound of the baby’s first cry brings a hush in the ER — then, slowly, smiles on every face.
“I’ve got her!” announces the medical resident on speakerphone. “She’s so beautiful.” This climactic scene was such a powerful statement for life, bringing me to tears.
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