Review: Rush 1×1 (USA)

USA Network's Rush

In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, USA Network

A while ago, I remarked that of all the people from Coupling whom you might have expected to see as a US action hero, Englishman Richard Coyle was probably at the bottom of the list, since he played poor old put-upon, terminally unconfident Welshman Jeff.

Well, it seems the season for such surprises because over on basic cable, USA has decided that absolutely the best person to head up its new dark, gritty – well, darker, grittier – medical show Rush is Welshman Tom Ellis. From Miranda. Yes, Miranda.

Here, let Blog Goddess and Welshwoman Joanna Page talk you through Tom Ellis’s Miranda highlights.

As Ellis himself remarks, “If Rush was a show in the UK, I don’t think that they would think of me to play that part.”

All power to him, though, because despite being forced to play American, Tom Ellis is actually very good in Rush. Tom Ellis is not Rush’s problem.

And Rush does have problems. Many of them. The most obvious of these is it’s basically Royal Pains crossed with the anaemic US version of Rake. Just like Dr Hank, Ellis’s eponymous Rush is a concierge doctor to the rich and famous, rushing to their side whenever they’re in medical trouble and using his ingenuity and network of connections to solve the trickiest of medical concerns.

But just like Rake’s Cleaver Greene, Rush is in it for himself and is a drug-taking, near moral vacuum who likes to screw around, smoke at his godson’s party, sabotages his relationships, exploits his female assistant and will take the worst scum of humanity as his clients, as long as they pay cash up front or hold a gun to his head.

Except this is basic cable so Rush has a heart. And it’s the USA Network, where characters are welcome and dark and gritty aren’t. Which means if you’re expecting a rush from Rush, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

Here’s a trailer:

About
RUSH examines the world of renegade physician Dr. William P. Rush (Tom Ellis, “Miranda”), a “medical fixer” who privately caters to LA’s elite and whose service comes with a hefty price tag. Though the hard-partying doctor claims that he doesn’t make judgments about his less-than-squeaky-clean clients, he’s not immune to the ugliness that he encounters. From Fox21 (“Homeland”) and writer/director Jonathan Levine (“Warm Bodies”), along with Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo (“Missing,” “13 Going on 30”) and Executive Producer Adam Fierro (“The Shield”), the series is set to film in Vancouver, Canada.  

Is it any good?
Much like that first episode of Royal Pains, it’s appalling toothless rubbish for its first 20 minutes. While Ellis is charming, he’s saddled with USA ‘character lines’ that make you think his Rush is a complete cock – and not in an interesting House-like way but in a ‘I take too much cocaine and think I’m God’s gift. And gosh! Aren’t I funny?’-like way. Every joke falls flat and every situation designed to make him look amoral, immoral and self-centred is so full of basic cable’s lack of daring that it comes across like a 13-year-old saying the word ‘bum’ a lot in order to shock and outrage.

Again, this isn’t Ellis’s fault – it’s the writing. OMG! He has to operate on a bloke with dick problems! Oh no. How outrageous this programme is.

However, by about the mid-point of the show, when it’s stopped trying to show how close to the knuckle it is and failing hopelessly, it does begin to even out. Rush becomes a bit more like the innovative Dr Hank, there’s a genuinely interesting operation scene, and he begins to show emotions that aren’t merely surface deep and glib. The end twists aren’t extraordinary but they at least show a little promise.

Nevertheless, you’ll have seen all of this before. It’s West Coast Royal Pains. It’s Rake (US) with a doctor. It’s Necessary Roughness with slightly worse behaved sports stars. None of the supporting characters, particularly Odette Annable’s massively underwritten ex-girlfriend, get much by way of development time. We already have evil Hank revealing his inner softy, neutralising any truly dark edge to which the show could have aspired.

It’s just all so insipid. There’s nothing really to latch onto, no element to it that makes you go, “Yes, I must tune in next week to watch that.”

Apart from Tom Ellis. Maybe.