Spoilers ahead for the series premiere of Transplant on NBC.
Fall TV season has arrived, but this September will feature far fewer premieres than usual thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that has prevented a lot of shows from starting production on time for the 2020-2021 TV lineup. The good news is that NBC is filling the medical drama vacuum with a Canadian import. Transplant, which launched on CTV and aired its full first season in Canada earlier in 2020, made its NBC debut on September 1. While only one episode has aired so far, I'm ready to say that Transplant is the medical drama I needed this fall.
First things first: Transplant is a medical drama centered on Bashir "Bash" Hamed, who fled Syria with his sister during the civil war and arrived in Canada as a refugee. His application to work as a doctor in a Canadian hospital was rejected. The series premiere starts with the restaurant where Bash worked being hit by a truck, and Bash jumped into action to save the lives of the patrons and workers.
By the end of the episode, after some harrowing encounters, heartbreaking reveals, and one racist cop, Bash won a second chance with the doctor who had denied him a job the first time around, and the stage is set for the medical action to pick up in the coming weeks. Here are a few reasons why Transplant is already the medical drama I needed this fall.
1. Hamza Haq As Dr. Bashir "Bash" Hamed"
TV pilots can be notoriously shaky, and the first episode of Transplant was heavy on plot and character introductions, with some of the exposition dropped very quickly. The episode was either going to hit or flop based on the central performance of Hamza Haq pulling everything together, and a flopped pilot is enough to kill a show right out of the gate. For me, Haq absolutely crushed it as Bash, and I was perfectly willing to suspend my disbelief and go along for the ride.
Sure, Bash punched a woman back to life, saved a man by drilling into his head with a dirty power tool, made good time running all over while actively bleeding from glass in his abdomen, and had been hiding nothing more serious than a phone as a birthday present for his sister throughout the hour, but Hamza Haq anchored the plot emotionally, and that made it worth watching. The drama will presumably get much more medical in the coming weeks now that Bash is actually going to be allowed to be a doctor, and I'm hooked with this pilot thanks to the lead actor's performance.
2. Fall Is Short On Medical Dramas
Medical dramas aren't exactly few and far between during a normal season of television, with offerings including Grey's Anatomy, Chicago Med, The Good Doctor, New Amsterdam, and The Resident. Throw in shows like 9-1-1 and Chicago Fire that frequently involve hospitals and doctors with their paramedics, and there is usually plenty of medical drama to be found in primetime. As a One Chicago fan with a soft spot for The Good Doctor and an inability to quit the Grey's Anatomy universe, I was going to go into medical drama withdrawal... without Transplant.
In all seriousness, Transplant seems like it will deliver enough familiar medical drama elements to give me what I'll be missing without all of the normal medical shows returning (although The Good Doctor is scheduled to return later in September following its deadly finale) combined with some new stories to keep me engaged. Even the fact that it's set in a Canadian hospital rather than American will mix things up, and that's a good thing in a TV season when the pickings could be slim for a while.
I appreciate all the TV shows that are going to account for the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed the world in so many ways in 2020, and medical dramas (including Grey's Anatomy and New Amsterdam) will be among those that won't ignore COVID. That said, if I'm going to be 100% honest, I'll be happy to have some TV escapism that doesn't focus on a real-life pandemic. With Transplant beginning production in summer 2019 and airing its first season from late February - late May this year, the show simply won't have had time to incorporate the pandemic.
Of course, Transplant has already been renewed for a second season on CTV, so it's entirely possible that the show will tackle COVID when it returns. For its first season, however, the pandemic shouldn't be an element, and NBC will continue providing new installments of Transplant on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET. NBC also isn't the only broadcast network that elected to air some series that already premiered elsewhere to fill primetime gaps due to delayed productions.
CBS is going to air Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 and One Day at a Time this fall, while The CW already started releasing weekly episodes of CBS All Access' Tell Me a Story, with DC Universe's (already cancelled) Swamp Thing debuting on the network in October. For more fall TV options now and in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule.