The old adage "less is more," doesn't seem to apply to television. With an unending supply of crime series, legal shows and hospital dramas, it's a wonder why networks continue to think they need more. Still, despite the overabundance, more arrive each season. Last season, NBC aired "Mercy," a series that follows the life of Nurse Veronica Flanagan Callahan (Taylor Schilling), and the many people who come together to try to keep Mercy Hospital running. The tagline for "Mercy" is "Some nurses give shots. Veronica calls them." While the idea about a topnotch, tough nurse certainly sounds promising, the series didn't really get the chance to develop its potential in this fairly short run.
In the premiere episode "Can We Get That Drink Now," Veronica has just returned from a tour in Iraq and must go back to work while dealing with her past experiences. Not only does Veronica have the memory of the war constantly taking hold of her, she also has to deal with her husband Mike (Diego Klattenhoff), from whom she's separated. Just as the couple start to work towards reconciliation, Veronica learns that Dr. Chris Sands (James Tupper) is now employed at Mercy Hospital. Chris and Veronica have a history serving in Iraq together and his presence only further complicates her relationship with Mike.
Thankfully "Mercy" doesn't focus solely on Veronica's love life. There are her friends, nurse Sonia (Jaime Lee Kirchner) and new nurse Chloe (Michelle Trachtenberg) who help keep her sane, as well as fight their own personal battles as they reach out to patients, find romance, and just make it through another day at Mercy Hospital. In the episode "I Believe You Conrad," Sonia starts her relationship with cop, Nick (Charlie Semine) after needing his help identifying a patient.
For Chloe, one of her biggest challenges is being seen as an adult. As the series progresses, Chloe transforms from uncertain and meek, to more outspoken and even starts seeing someone. Trachtenberg portrays the development of a character going from fear and inexperience to confidence believably. Kirchner also does a great job portraying a woman who is balancing her work life and her love life. Her character sees some changes once she begins working for a wealthy family as a home nurse, which only leads to complications in her love life - as well as her career.
With several supporting characters including Dr. Harris (James LeGros), Nurse Angel Garcia (Guillermo Díaz) and Dr. Gillian Jelani (K.K. Moggie), it's clear that the writers were looking to create an ensemble that could lend itself to several storylines. However, it's Veronica who stands out as the focal point and Schilling does a great job giving the role both an edge and a warmth. Throughout the series, Veronica is faced with her past and eventually tries to get to the root of some of her experiences through therapy. She also has to focus on salvaging her marriage, as well as her reputation as a nurse. The fact that Veronica served in Iraq and had a relationship with one of the doctors before returning seems like premise enough to provide a springboard to a decent amount of drama. The series often shows real promise in trying to move beyond the traditional boundaries of the hospital drama, but within the realm of an opening season, doesn't go there often enough.
By the middle of the season with the episode "Can We Talk About the Gigantic Elephant in the Ambulance," James Van Der Beek was brought on as Dr. Joe Briggs. Dr. Briggs is far from likable, in fact he's completely arrogant and Van Der Beek does a surprisingly good job shaking off his nice guy image from his "Dawson Creek" role to offer a solid performance as Briggs. Another great addition to the series is Mary Stuart Masterson as Veronica's therapist. Van Der Beek and Stuart Masterson almost make you wish the series had started with them having more central roles.
While "Mercy" certainly doesn't stand up to some of the great hospital shows of the past like "E.R." or "Chicago Hope," it does try to offer some new situations and characters for audiences to root for. Looking at what was produced, the series has some faults, as well as some stretches that feel too familiar. Still, it has real potential and a fine ensemble cast, and had it gone for more than a season, it could have maybe been a contender.
1-01 23/Sep/09 Can We Get That Drink Now?
1-02 30/Sep/09 I Believe You, Conrad
1-03 07/Oct/09 Hope You're Good, Smiley Face
1-04 14/Oct/09 Pulling the Goalie
1-05 21/Oct/09 You Lost Me With the Cinder Block
1-06 04/Nov/09 The Last Thing I Said Was
1-07 11/Nov/09 Destiny, Meet My Daughter, Veronica
1-08 18/Nov/09 I'm Not That Kind of Girl
1-09 09/Dec/09 Some of Us Have Been to The Desert
1-10 06/Jan/10 I Saw This Pig and I Thought Of You
1-11 13/Jan/10 We're All Adults
1-12 20/Jan/10 Wake Up, Bill
1-13 03/Feb/10 Can We Talk About the Gigantic Elephant in the Ambulance?
1-14 10/Feb/10 I Have A Date
1-15 03/Mar/10 I Did Kill You, Didn't I?
1-16 10/Mar/10 I'm Fine
1-17 17/Mar/10 There Is No Room for You on My Ass
1-18 24/Mar/10 Of Course I'm Not
1-19 21/Apr/10 There Is No Superwoman
1-20 28/Apr/10 We All Saw This Coming
1-21 05/May/10 Too Much Attitude and Not Enough Underwear
1-22 12/May/10 That Crazy Bitch Was Right
VIDEO: "Mercy" is presented by Universal in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image quality throughout was generally very good, with few significant concerns. Sharpness and detail were very pleasing; while the show didn't appear razor sharp, it at least boasted good, consistent definition.
The picture did show some grain at times, but I'm not sure if this was an intentional element of the photography or not. Edge enhancement and pixelation were kept to a minimum, and the elements used seemed to be in excellent shape, with no visible wear or damage. Colors remained natural and seemed accurately presented, with no smearing or other faults. Flesh tones also appeared spot-on, too.
SOUND: The show is presented by Universal in Dolby Digital 5.1. However, the audio understandably doesn't push the envelope, with the surrounds only called upon to provide some mild ambience. Audio quality remained pleasing, with clear dialogue and no concerns.
"Gag Reel" At just over five minutes, the gag reel feels a little long. There are some funny moments that fans of the series may enjoy.
Commentaries are included on episodes "Can We Get That Drink Now," and "I Have a Date,"
"Can We Get That Drink Now" features Executive Producers Liz Heldens, Gretchen J. Berg, and Aaron Harberts. The commentary isn't the most exciting, but the group does provide some insight into the series including shortened scenes, setting up shots, as well as casting and characters. "I Have a Date" features Taylor Schilling, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Jaime Lee Kirchner. It takes them awhile to get going with more observation than insight, but once they do, they provide some laughs alongside some interesting behind-the-scenes information.
"Dr. Sands Speaks" James Tupper talks about the show's take on the medical industry, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara's guest roles and time on set, and more. "Interview with Jamie Lee Kirchner" Kirchner shares her take on the series as well as working with Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.
"The New Doctor" James Van Der Beek talks about his role as Dr. Briggs, as well as working on a medical drama, the show itself, and the nurses of Mercy Hospital.
"Guest Stars Galore" James Tupper talks about some of the guest stars including Michael Imperioli, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, as well as working in an abandoned hospital in New Jersey.
"Stiller and Meara on 'Mercy'" Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara sit down to talk about their role and time on "Mercy," as well as some of the characters from the series.
"Adventures Outside of Salem" Alison Sweeney talks about her role on "Mercy" and what it's like working on a character and set other than her "Days Of Our Lives" role.
"Guest Star Michael Imperioli" Michael Imperioli talks about his role on the series, what it was like working on "Mercy," filming in New Jersey, working with the cast, and more.
"Elevating our Forces" Kirchner talks about working with Michael Imperioli.
"Real Housewives of Mercy" From the series "Real Housewives of New Jersey," Teresa Giudice and Jacqueline Laurita talk about their guest role on "Mercy." Taylor Schilling, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Jaime Lee Kirchner talk about having Giudice and Laurita on the set.
"Blogger Q&A" The cast gather for a nearly twelve minute Q&A.
Also included on the DVD is the director's cut for the final episode.
"Eureka," "In Plain Sight," "Psych," "Miami Vice," "The Office," "Parks and Recreation," "A-Team," "Magnum P.I.," and "Knight Rider".
Final Thoughts: While "Mercy" certainly doesn't stand up to some of the great hospital shows of the past like "E.R." or "Chicago Hope," it certainly manages to show potential and offer a great cast in this unfortunately short run. The DVD offers solid audio/video quality, as well as a surprisingly nice set of extra features.