Pilot Script Review of Good Sam
Good Sam is CBS's only contender this year in the medical genre after passing on Under The Bridge last pilot season and ordering none the year before. It comes from in-house producer Jennie Snyder Urman, who created and executive produced Jane The Virgin. She currently serves as executive producer on the CW’s Charmed and CBS’s midseason sitcom Broke. The writer is Katie Wech, who previously worked with Urman as co-executive producer on Jane the Virgin. Prior to Good Sam, she wrote ABC's pilot The Hypnotist’s Love Story, based on the Liane Moriarty book, which didn't make it to series for good reasons (read my script review). Most recently, she was one of the many writers hired for Fox’s summer series BH90210.
This is also the second year CBS has developed a drama pilot for Sophia Bush. In 2019, she headlined Surveillance, a suspenseful spy thriller (read my preview) which reportedly "tested through the roof" but was ultimately determined not to be a good fit for the network. Will Bush have better luck this time? Read on...
WRITTEN BY: Katie Wech
DRAFT DATE: 1/21/20
PAGE COUNT: 60 pages
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We open on Detroit's Henry Ford hospital, where we hear the beeping of a heart monitor and some heavy breathing. At the nurses station, nurses DONNA (50s) and PAMELA (30s) are explaining to a patient how it crazy it can get here sometimes, just as SAMANTHA aka DR SAM (35) chases after MR FERGUSON, a disoriented patient who's refusing to be operated on. At the front entrance, Sam tries to reassure him as best she can. She tells him that Dr Griffith is the best surgeon around. That's when he decides to make a entrance, parking his Tesla in his VIP parking spot just next to the hospital entrance: Meet the handsome DR PAUL "GRIFF" GRIFFITH (50s), in all his glory. With Mr Ferguson still not convinced, Sam decides to show him the scar on her chest. She had heart surgery a long time ago. It saved her. There's hope for him, just as there was hope for her. Later that day, in pre-op, the patient is finally on the table. Griff arrives to do his magic. Meanwhile, Sam steps into an elevator when DR CALEB DE LUCA (30s) hops on. He kisses her. Apparently they're in a relationship. She tells him she's decided to take that job offer in Cleveland once she's finished her fellowship. Part of her decision clearly stems from her troubled relationship with Griff, who doesn't respect or value her the way she thinks he should.
In surgery prep, we meet several residents: DR RAJ GARG (30s), DR PIPPA TRULIE (30s) and DR JOEY SILVA (30s). Caleb is here too, as well as Sam, who's their supervisor. They're interrupted by Griff, making another big entrance, and it doesn't take long before he manages to undermine each of them one by one, including Sam. She's the one he hits the hardest. In the OR, things are not going as well as they should. Griff and Sam get into an argument that continues in the nurse's station minutes later. They can't agree on a change in the procedure. Just as a frustrated Sam is about to tell him she'll soon be gone, pagers go off. There's an emergency. The ER is full of people after a ten car pile-up. Some are angry, especially a husband who doesn't understand why his wife hasn't been treated yet. He's aggressive toward Griff. Just as the man begins to charge at him, Griff suddenly drops to the ground, a pool of blood growing around his body. He's been shot by a schizophrenic man nobody noticed in the background amid the pandemonium. Griff loses consciousness just as Sam arrives, screaming "Dad!". Fade to black.
COMMENTS: After reading dozens of medical drama pilot scripts over the years, I know they're hard to get right, and very few stand out. ER and Grey's Anatomy have such rich legacies that one can't help but compare everything else to one or the other. If it's serious and more precise with the medical details, you're in ER territory. If it's lighter and more on the soapy side of things, you're compared to Grey's Anatomy. Every now and then, one tries to be both (and fails).
Good Sam falls very much into the Grey's Anatomy category, complete with a main character forced to live in the shadow of their larger than life parent. In this case, Sam's father is like Dr House: abrasive, cocky, mean and of course the most brilliant person in the room. Because that's not enough, he also has cancer. You know, like New Amsterdam's hero. So, yeah, it's not the most original pilot script.
To be fair, Good Sam certainly isn't the most egregious of the Grey's wannabes. It doesn't rely on love stories nearly as much, at least initially. Sam has a boyfriend at the beginning, but then she doesn't anymore. And although there's another character she could fall in love with, that's not the main focus. The focus is her wrought relationship with her father; one that gets more complicated when Griff suddenly awakens from a months-long coma and learns that Sam has become the new Chief of Surgery. The only way to resume his job is as her subordinate, an arrangement which, for him, is untenable. Their interactions work, and Sophia Bush and Jason Isaacs seem like they could be a great pairing. The other characters around them fail to make much of an impression, except for Sam's mother and Griff's ex-wife, Vivian, who's an administrator at the hospital. Oh, and her new husband is also a doctor there. Adding to the intrigue, Sam's best friend Pippa sleeps with Griff! So, yes, there are some seriously intermingled lives at this hospital, and a fair number of twists in the pilot, but it's not clear where the show goes from here, and/or whether CBS viewers will be invested enough in its characters to care.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Good Sam is a solid pilot script with a fair number of twists. The father-daughter relationship at its heart is compelling, and Sophia Bush and Jason Isaacs seem well cast. That said, it doesn't feel like it brings much new to the medical show genre overall, and feels far more soapy than we've come to expect from CBS. It's not clear to me where it could fit in their schedule.
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] CONSIDER
[ ] RECOMMEND