Mondays, 10 p.m. on TNT
You need TV shows that end happily and definitively, don’t you?
For you, there’s Heartland, which takes place in a Pittsburgh transplant hospital with the highest success rate of any facility in the country. Arrogant Dr. Nate Armstrong (Treat Williams, fresh off a similar role on Everwood) leads the staff, and his willingness to try risky procedures and transplant less-than-perfect organs — which could lead to deaths — doesn’t always sit well with the hospital administrators or his colleagues.
That creates some dramatic tension, as does Armstrong’s relationship with his ex-wife, Kate (Kari Matchett), whose job happens to be procuring organs for him to transplant. She’s angry about his affairs and he’s angry that she wouldn’t stop working while they were married.
Heartland tilts toward the melodramatic when it focuses on the hospital staff’s personal lives (what hospital show doesn’t?), but it does well dealing with the issues surrounding transplants.
In next week’s episode (the show debuted Monday), a son wants to give a portion of his liver to his alcoholic father who continued to drink after a transplant two years earlier and a mother must decide whether to donate her comatose daughter’s heart.
Because this is the transplant hospital, the operations go relatively smoothly. So the staff may have disagreements and personal problems, but their work lives wrap up happily.
And that appears to be what the public wants. Think about the shows that have ended in the past few years. The four girlfriends were together at the end of Sex and the City. Everyone lived happily ever after on Friends. Same thing on Everwood, where Williams’ character and everyone else paired up as they were supposed to.
On the other hand, Seinfeld is routinely excoriated for its finale, which sent the characters to jail for a year as punishment for their indifference to others. (A perfect ending, I’d say.) And we’ll hear about the end of The Sopranos for years because it didn’t conclude neatly. Anyway, real life rarely ends neatly, and provocative, thought-provoking television is rarer still. But if you need a tidy conclusion, I recommend Heartland."