Producer Terence Wrong has made a career out of creating serious but accessible documentary series about urban hospitals and other big-city institutions. NY Med is his third hospital series for ABC, after Boston Med and Hopkins, and it doesn't mess with the formula, presenting a straightforward look at the practice of medicine in two different New York City hospitals, with minimal flash and no narration. Most of this material is inherently fascinating, and Wrong and his crew need only stand back and document the life-saving surgeries and emergency treatments the doctors perform.
But this is network TV, so NY Med isn't without its manipulative sentiment. There are plenty of sappy music cues and heartstring-tugging interviews with family members, and Wrong is good at drumming up suspense by cutting from, say, a potentially unsuitable liver being prepped for transplant to something like a drunk moron stumbling into the ER. Those smaller segments do a nice job of breaking up the heavy life-or-death stories, but it's sometimes frustrating to be watching doctors nervously anticipating a test result to find out if a tumor is cancerous and then have to wait through a superfluous segment about some nurse's dating life before finding out the answer.
Wrong does go astray with those segments that leave the hospitals to follow a young doctor as he returns to his old haunts in New Orleans (cue the theme song from Treme!) or a hottie nurse as she vacations in Miami with her meathead boyfriend. Those concessions to reality-TV conventions feel like cheap sell-out moments, as does the inclusion of the self-aggrandizing talk-show host Dr. Oz, who may still practice medicine but mostly offers up lame platitudes about how love is the most important element in recovering from heart surgery. Luckily, Wrong has plenty of other doctors and patients to focus on, and no single personality dominates the show. For fans of medical dramas who'd like to see how this stuff works in the real world (with the added element of things not always working out as scripted), NY Med is as close as you're going to get.