Medical dramas are a dime a dozen in today’s entertainment slate, so it’s refreshing to see a surprising light touch put on this engaging new series that balances its amusing moments with some excellent human drama.
Heartbeat is from America’s NBC network and not to be confused with the popular British series of the same name which was police drama set in 1960s Yorkshire. That latter came to an end in 2010 after an 18 year run.
Australia’s Melissa George stars in this new Heartbeat and immediately shows her star power playing Dr Alex Panttiere, one of the world’s few female heart surgeons and the Chief Innovations Officer at the St Matthews research hospital. Sitting on the cutting edge of technology, Panttiere still faces the emotion and pressures of her unique personal and professional lives.
The 10-episode series is adapted from Heart Matters, the autobiography of Dr Kathy Magliato, one of the few female cardiothoracic surgeons in the world.
In the pilot episode, we’re introduced to Panttiere with a mid-flight emergency before getting to know her complicated home life involving children, her ex-husband and his new boyfriend. At work, we witness her skill and determination as she navigates beauracracy, interns, an attempted suicide, complex heart surgery and the return of former mentors and flames. It’s a lot to fit into one episode but it keeps the script tight and the action rollicking along, sequaying smoothly between light and dark moments.
The dramatic tension often runs high and Melissa George, while ably supported by a great ensemble, more or less carries the show – and she does it well. She’s come a long way since her days on soap opera Home and Away and it has been inspirational seeing her go from strength to strength. In Heartbeat she has the lead role she deserves and she does it complete justice.
From the pilot episode, Heartbeat promises to be an entertaining series with a host of complex but interesting characters with equally exciting storytelling. Keep your finger on the pulse of this show.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8
Heartbeat Season 1 will be released on DVD from 18 August 2016.