Logline: Follows a young Silicon Valley tech titan who enlists a veteran surgeon with a controversial past in starting a shopital with a cutting-edge, “new school” approach to medicine.
Cast: Brenda Song, Dermot Mulroney, Augustus Prew, Reshma Shetty, Odette Annable
Creators: Jason Katims (Writer / EP), Michelle Lee (EP), David Semel (D/EP)
Studios: Universal TV, True Jack Productions
Set in a hi-tech Silicon Valley hospital that delivers cutting-edge medical care, Bunker Hill starts with promise. The teaser flows with energy and right off the bat, Bunker Hill gives us what Bull doesn’t — characters we care about.
Bunker Hill is positioned as a two-hander with James and Wallace. James is a charming, young Silicon Valley genius who made billions off an app, then used that money to buy off a hospital. Thus, Bunker Hill was born. Wallace is a respected surgeon who falls from grace when he administers a non-approved drug to a cancer patient, who then dies. Upon James’ invitation, Wallace joins Bunker Hill as James’ Chief of Staff.
This is a solid dramatic setup, with an interesting contrast between two charismatic leads. James is plain adorable, and I like the odd-couple that he and Wallace will form. I think the casting, Prew for James and Mulroney for Walter Wallace, is spot on. It’s worth noting that with the exception of Mulroney and Annable’s characters, this is going to be a young cast.
Though Walter is a more conventional POV character, James is developed a bit like Joe MacMillan from Halt and Catch Fire. The guy who talks. The guy who promises. The marketing guy. The Steve Jobs to Walter’s Wozniak. But the twist here is that James is sympathetic. He’s a nice guy, and the pilot isn’t afraid to embrace that. He has flaws, but not really “a dark side.” He’s also susceptible to a rare disorder that is almost certainly going to kill him soon, which is a cool ticking clock.
The supporting cast is well-differentiated too. By the end of the teaser, we have a clear sense of who’s who, their differentiated roles. So when they all come together for a team meeting at the start of Act One, I know exactly who they are. Read closely, Bull, ‘cause this is how it’s done.
I also enjoyed the stakes in the pilot plotline: the race to save a pregnant woman with cancer. The way things stand, either she survives and aborts the baby, or both she waits to treat the cancer until the baby is born, almost certainly resulting in the mother’s death. Now that’s a dilemma. When she and her husband can’t come to a decision, James decides he’s going to save both. That’s character.
So would I return for future episodes? Yes. I’m curious to see whether James can find a cure for his disease. I’m curious to see whether he and Alex get together. That said, there are things that worry me.
More could be done to pull us into Walter’s story, which simply isn’t as intriguing as James. Also, the pilot devotes a lot of time to “cool technology,” which feels like a grave Bunker Hill has dug for itself. Are we going to get this in every episode? If so, that might get tiring at the very least.
All in all, this seems like a solid package at this point. But can it beat Doubt?