So, I guess Hulu was having a special “Pilot Airing” week! Apparently, the thing now for new shows is to stream their pilots a week or so before they broadcast them to a national audience. Streaming media is actually a phenomenal tool for broadcast television. If you have a pretty successful show that’s been on for a season or two, throw it up on a streaming ” channel ” like Netflix or Hulu, and if the show is that good, you’ll have an even bigger audience in seasons 3, 4, 5, etc. That’s part of the reason a juggernaut like Sons of Anarchy has steadily Increasing numbers year after year. I’m getting ahead of myself here, where was I? Oh yes! One of the new shows that The Maestro had “suggested” (more like ordered, complete with throwing things, but whatever) I watch was Red Band Society. It’s a different approach toward a hospital drama, almost a dramedy. Rather than center around the hospital staff and their co-mingling, Red Band focuses on the children who spend enough time in the hospital to actually go to school there. Make no mistake about this show, these kids are SICK. But, their sickness isn’t the whole story. Their lives and how they all seem to gravitate toward one another is a much better idea for a central plot than just dying kids.
I have had some issues with child actors in the past because some of them just can’t act well enough and I feel uncomfortable watching them. But Red Band Society has cast some seasoned pros. Each character seems to represent a different clique you would find in a typical high school: The rich girl with an eating disorder, the stoner/party kid, the domineering cheerleader captain, the coma boy who visits each of them when they are coding or under anesthesia. And then there is Charlie who, I think, has been there so long he hasn’t had the opportunity to become a typical teenager. Instead of focusing on their ailments, the kids seem to be trying to live their lives as good as their surroundings allow them. And because of those surroundings, the few adults that they have as surrogate parents/mentors are hospital staff. Octavia Spencer (The Help) leads the adult cast as Nurse Jackson, a nurse who’s so intimidating that she even scares the barista at the local coffee shop, but who secretly cares very much for those kids. Dave Annable (Brother & Sisters) plays Dr. Jack McAndrew, the resident cancer specialist. And Griffin Dunne (After Hours, Dallas Buyers Club) does a great cameo as Ruben Garcia, a rich hypochondriac who likes living at hospitals.
The show might be trying to break a mold here by focusing on the some of the lighter stuff that these kids deal with, but I don’t know if the viewers will be able to watch long term, as there is a likelihood of some of them not living long enough to attend the hospital’s high school graduation ceremony. I would say it’s either going to be a huge hit or it won’t make the full season.