Station 19: All Fight and No Fire

Without the Shonda Rhimes spark, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy spin-off sizzles out

ae-Station19Logo-CourtesyWikimediaCommons

ABC's new "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff has none of Shonda Rhimes' spark.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

As “Grey’s Anatomy” soldiers on for its 14th season, a new spinoff, “Station 19,” has arrived as a life-boat for ABC’s sinking ship. With famed producer Shonda Rhimes departing for Netflix, ABC threw all of its eggs into the seemingly-safe bet of a show about sexy firefighters saving puppies, octogenarians and pregnant 13 year-olds. The final product, however, was nothing more than a cookie cutter fluff piece no better than every other modified cop show on the market.

With a diverse, forward-thinking cast of characters ranging from a hardened station chief who helped get people out of the towers on Sept. 11, 2001 to a former Olympian turned fire-fighting powerhouse, “Station 19” follows the Shondaland production studio’s model to the letter. With independent and ambitious Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz) at the forefront, the premise is promising. Herrera comes across and genuine and likable — a strong woman who isn’t interested in fitting into anyone’s box and certainly not anyone’s label. And yet the pilot is forced and cliché, each foray into a back story about as subtle as the three-story apartment fire blazing in the background.

The origin of the spin-off is Ben Warren (Jason Winston George), quite possibly the least likable character in Grey’s Anatomy history. To the benefit of the show he left behind, Warren no longer swaggers into a surgical operating room with the overblown confidence of a man who thinks he is God’s gift to women and patients alike. To the detriment of “Station 19,” far too much of the pilot is centered around a whiny debate over the struggles of Ben’s departure from medicine and the woes of not knowing everything after two whole weeks of training. In short, Ben Warren is about as interesting as a dentist’s waiting room and about as appealing as the root canal that awaits beyond the door.

Even if the cocky surgeon-turned-firefighter is struck from the record and altogether forgotten, “Station 19” still fails to do anything original, unexpected or even remotely surprising in its cable debut. Perhaps originality is expecting too much from the next in a long line of crime-fighting, life-saving dramas already on the air. But when compared to its parent show, the greatest medical show since “ER,” and the tour-de-force dramas of “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Station 19” is just another fluff piece and certainly not worthy of any connection to the Shondaland empire. To those craving the classic Shonda Rhimes twist to any classic tale, “Station 19” will leave a sense of dull disappointment at best, and a complete aversion to the show at worst.

Ultimately, “Station 19” isn’t a bad show. It has a lead woman with all the trappings of a mostly relatable and empowering representation of womanhood. It has enough eye candy to placate the masses when they aren’t really looking for substance on a Thursday night. It has a premise guaranteed to sustain an episodic plot line for an indefinite time on easy-to-swallow sub-plots of brave men and women pulling children from burning buildings and performing death-defying acts. However, looking for a reminder of the greatness found in the golden early years of “Grey’s Anatomy” and its captivating first spin-off, “Private Practice,” is about as fruitful as praying for the miraculous resurrection of Derek Shepherd.

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