Off the Map is not nearly as good as Grey’s Anatomy was in its first couple of episodes (but it's a heck of a lot better than Private Practice was). It’s too light and it has yet to decide whether it’s more of a serial or a procedural. But the episodes don’t drag. It’s easy to watch, mindless entertainment. But it doesn’t sink to the level of superficiality and debauchery as most mindless entertainment shows involving romance (Jersey Shore, soap operas, etc.) Also, it is slowly but surely getting better. It’s easy to top the self-conscious, dumb pilot with potential that it churned out at first, but still. We think the dialogue is getting less schmaltzy too, as the characters’ redemption storylines have already been introduced. We can move past that a little now.
The latest episode featured an ex-law student (Mateo) on the run from the local, corrupt cops who is into Lily. He was on the show before too. This shows that Off the Map is starting to have the doctors forge connections with the locals that could turn into decent story arcs. We found out that Ben has a comatose wife whose funds support the clinic. This is a great surprise, and it shows us that the show is not afraid to go to a sort of creepy place and make the characters imperfect. Tommy is already starting to grow as a person and has stopped sleeping with every tourist who lands in the jungle. The show is moving in the right direction. We liked the giant snake, the ex-Nazi, and the father/daughter amputee plots. There are moments that are good, along with the cheesy, Grey’s-rip off moments. We are also enjoying Meryl Streep’s daughter, who plays Mina. She has an interesting look and enough charisma to pull of the character, even though we can see that she needs a little more acting experience. We actually like most of the cast. The scenery is gorgeous.
Zee and Cole were boring at first, but now we know that Cole used to be a drug addict and Zee has a hot Scottish guy after her. We really like that some of the natives are recurring and some stories are about to be set up. One of us likes the character of Dr. Ryan Clark. She’s cool, compassionate, and competent. We just wish she wasn’t sleeping with Ben. We’re glad Lily and Ben haven’t gotten together yet.
This show’s weakness is that it is relying too much on the big emergencies of the week, rather than focusing on a coherent, season-long plot arc for its main characters. This show would not work as a procedural. While patient stories are necessary, it’s the ongoing plots that keep people hooked on a show like this. Big patient stories each week are too unbelievable for a show that already has an out-there, fancy premise.
We want Ben’s wife to die, the clinic to conflict more with local corrupt law enforcement, and for Mina to get a love interest. We want the show’s messages to start being more subtle and we want the show to take more chances to break out of its “seen it, and it was Grey’s Anatomy” vibe. With so many good shows ending lately, we don’t feel like we should be too picky on a Wednesday night, packed only with American Idol, Cougar Town (on hiatus until April - or Mr. Sunshine is cancelled, which is unlikely because ratings are good), and Modern Family. Off the Map has yet to find its way, voice, and story. There’s room for it on our schedule, so we are going to really give it a chance to get good. If, by the end of the season, it isn’t, it’s gone. But we are giving it Season 1.
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