Outside, it’s a cool mid-October day in Albuquerque, N.M., but inside, it’s all Texas for visiting press. NBC’s new medical drama “The Night Shift” is in production for its Tuesday, May 27, premiere, and the financially strapped San Antonio Memorial Hospital has come to life inside a soundstage.
The operating rooms may be a bit spacious, everything’s rather clean, and one of the supply cabinets is illuminated in a particularly “X-Files” shade of green — and one storage bin is inexplicably labeled “VICE GRIP” — but if one didn’t know better (or look up), it’s easy to forget that it’s not actually a hospital emergency room.
Created by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, “The Night Shift” focuses on Dr. TC Callahan (Irish actor Eoin Macken), who has just finished three grueling tours of duty as a combat surgeon in Afghanistan. He lands in San Antonio, along with best pal Topher (Ken Leung), an ER specialist who helped soldiers injured in battle, and Army doctor protege Drew (Brendan Fehr).
TC’s new boss on the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift is his ex-girlfriend, Dr. Jordan Alexander (Jill Flint), whose new fiance, trauma surgeon Dr. Scott Collins (Scott Wolf), arrives from Dallas for a visit and sticks around for a while on the day shift.
Also on the team are new doctors Paul (Robert Bailey Jr.) and Krista (Jeananne Goossen), psychiatrist Dr. Landry de la Cruz (Daniella Alonso), and seasoned nurse Kenny (JR Lemon).
Presiding over the facility is Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez), who works the administrative side of medicine – and frequently works TC’s last nerve.
And, according to TC’s real-life alter ego, that’s not especially hard to do.
“He’s actually dark,” says Macken, settled into a couch in a lounge that features a basket of stuffed animals (Lemon and Fehr, in particular, seemed to enjoy a little furry cuddle during some group interviews). “I like the darkness part of it. He’s actually a deeply flawed character. He’s quite emotive, but when he is, it’s quite extreme. He’s got this disruption. There’s a very fragmented psyche, which is fun, but he’s also quite charismatic, so I’m not walking around playing this morose guy. So he’s actually quite fun.”
“A lot of it comes from his past, to do with family and relationships. For TC … every single person he saves becomes a very personal project, because he has to save everybody. In a way, doing that abdicates him of any kind of guilt he has from aspects of his past, which makes him a wonderful doctor but makes everything very extreme. It can be tiring, but it also means there are a lot of places to go with it, which is fun.”
If TC didn’t come with enough baggage, he has to watch his ex-love frolic around with her new beau – right in his hospital.
“His personal life is actually quite destructive,” says Macken. “I think his personal life is very selfish. TC and Jordan’s relationship is … former relationship … but still, technically, it’s a relationship … from TC’s point of view, it’s a very positive thing; from Jordan’s point of view, it’s a very negative thing.”
Wolf, who appears in four episodes, likes the idea of finding his guy’s Achilles’ heel. “He’s supremely confident as a physician,” Wolf says, taking Macken’s place on the couch. “He’s at his best there. He knows exactly what he’s capable of and how to control that environment. But you also see him in a relationship. He’s doing OK, but there’s no such thing as absolute control. I suppose you can have a God complex in a relationship, but it’s not going to go well.”
“Which one do you think wins?” says Flint. “(The relationship stuff) is not over the top. Any of the loving you see is usually outside … except for that one scene, but it’s not too much.”
Meanwhile, Fehr is just happy that production gives him Fridays or Mondays off so he can get home and see his wife and three daughters.
At a table in the doctors lunchroom, he says, “My kids miss me. I went back last weekend, and I’m going back next weekend — two in a row. The previous two weeks before that, I hadn’t seen them the longest. Even my kid, she was like, ‘I don’t love Papa anymore.’ That’s what she said, the 2 1/2-year-old.”
“It sounds really terrible, but I wasn’t heartbroken by it, because I understood. I wasn’t there, and she was mad at me. As soon as I arrived, she was all over me and jumping and hugging me.”
But he does say that, “The Night Shift” is “by far the best set I’ve ever been on. Oh, the people are horrible. I’m just talking about the set itself.”
He grins then says, “Yeah, the people are awesome.”
“The Night Shift” premieres Tuesday, May 27 at 10pm ET/PT on NBC.