“Heartbeat” (NBC) pilot preview: a cheesy medical soap so 10 years ago!


Previously entitled Heart Matters. Written & produced by Jill Gordon (The Wonder Years, Thirtysomething, My so-called Life). Co-produced by Amy Brenneman (Amy, Private Practice, The Leftovers), Kathy Magliato & Brad Silberling (Reign). Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill (Chuck, Star Trek Voyager, Dawson). For NBC & Universal Television. 66 pages.

Description:  Inspired by the life of Dr. Kathy Magliato and her book of the same name. It follows the outspoken Alex Panttiere, one of the rare female heart-transplant surgeons. Alex brings an innovative eye to treating patients week to week while also balancing the complications of her professional and romantic life: her new boss is her ex-flame, her ex-husband is still very much in her life while her boyfriend is pushing for the next step in their relationship…

With Melissa George (The Slap, Alias, Hunted, In Treatment), Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters, Red Band Society), Jamie Kennedy (Ghost Whisperer), Shelley Conn (Terra Nova, Marchlands), Don Hany (Serangoon Road), Maya Erskine (Man Seeking Woman, Betas), Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project, Bates Motel), Jlouis Mills, D.L. Hughley

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Some actor always ends up in a show cancelled after a few episodes. Some other, like Melissa George, are always cast in pilots that are never ordered to series. So, for the third year in a row, after Gothica (ABC) and Dangerous Liaisons (ABC), the Alias alumna is starring in a new one, a medical drama for NBC this time, called Heart Matters. From the title only, you can already guess it doesn’t sound good. But as you don’t judge a book by its cover, you don’t judge a pilot by its title. Sadly, Heart Matters is as cheesy as it sounds. But I’m not saying it’s a total mess. In fact, it’s quite solid. But for a show developed during 2004/2005 pilot season (and I may be indulgent), not 2015/2016.

I’m not proud of what I’m going to write but let’s go: the whole team of this pilot hasn’t done a good thing for quite some time -when it comes to Amy Brenneman, I only talk about her role as a producer, not  as an actress- and it shows. It feels dated in every way. I even suspect Jill Gordon, the creator, has never seen Grey’s Anatomy, or Mercy (for this one, we can’t blame her). Or she has seen too much of it and nothing else. I believe there’s a place for shows like this one. It’s Lifetime, or Hallmark Channel. But not NBC. I don’t even understand why the network bothered ordering it. Of course, they didn’t know at the time if The Night Shift was worth a third season -and the answer is no, but it will get it anyway- nor what would happen with the Chicago Fire spin-off Chicago Med, but it would be a big surprise if they don’t order it. They even assembled a strong cast so… Heart Matters has a very very little chance to air. As a proof of the dated thing I was talking about, the writer refers to Bridget Jones three or four times in the script, when describing the way the heroin is handling things. Bridget Jones! I mean, I love her, and I even read the third book published last year but she’s no longer a thing. Sorry. Even the whole “she’s brilliant at work but a real mess in her personal life” logline has already been done a thousand times. That’s what I felt when reading: yeah, okay, right, hum, well… Been there, done that.

What I appreciated is the way the pilot is structured: there are a few flashbacks from 10 years ago, a good way to realize who she was and who she became; and it ends on a flashforward showing who she will end up with in 10 years. Her new boss and ex-flame? Her ex-husband? No, not this one. He became gay in the meantime. Her boyfriend? Or the guy in the frame we have not met yet? The question is left opened. I don’t think it’s enough to give us a reason a stay. The medical cases are gripping and moving, but there’s a ridiculous twist in one of them: a man in love with a woman who’s waiting for a new heart and who may die quickly if she doesn’t get it commit suicide! On a balcony. Ready to jump. But he shoots himself in the head instead. To save her. Alex is covered with blood, she wasn’t able to stop him. Please… Too much. Most of the other characters feel too close to home: the “Raven-haired woman with red lipstick” who starts as a bitch and is in fact a nice gal is Kate Walsh/Addison Montgomery in disguise (but she has a “cool” name: Millicent Newbauer); Dr Shane, who’s a mix between McDreamy and McSteamy… and it goes on and on and on. The saddest thing is we will probably never see the shirtless scene of Dave Annable, sweaty. We can’t have it all I guess…

Heart Matters should go back to where it comes from: 2004. And never see the light of day. I’m a bit harsh, I know, but I really don’t think we or NBC need a new medical soap like this one, we already know by heart. It brings absolutely nothing new to the table. It won’t work. And Melissa George deserves better. 


  1. Nick says:

    Yeah, does sound a bit boring and something we saw in the past and with Chicago med and night shift ( If renew) Then Will be to much medical shows. Also thanks about The reviews, is good to have other visions of what is to come. Not sure is the right place, but wanted to ask u if will u do this to all pilots or just some?because would like to see what u say about the 2 Pilots based on turkish shows, Runner and Game of silence.

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