Spoilers ahead for Episode 2 of Transplant on NBC, called "Tell Me Who You Are."
The second episode of Transplant continued to tell the story of Syrian refugee Bash Hamed, and "Tell Me Who You Are" revealed that his struggles to retake his place as a doctor aren't over just because he landed himself a job at the end of the pilot. It also confirmed how Transplant stands out from the likes of NBC's Chicago Med as well as other medical dramas like ABC's Grey's Anatomy, Fox's The Resident, and more. The answer is almost painfully obvious, but "Tell Me Who You Are" convinced me that it's awesome. Transplant is set in Canada.
That may not seem like much, but bear with me. Now, part of me is biased by the fact that I'm just missing medical drama action, and with shows like Chicago Med not returning until November at the earliest, I'm willing to take what I can get. I can admit that! Still, the Canadian setting for Transplant does provide some small but key differences from the vast majority of medical dramas in the U.S. market. These differences make Transplant not only worth watching, but worth watching carefully.
More than once in the first couple episodes of Transplant, I've assumed I knew where a story was going because I saw it on ER 20 years ago or Grey's Anatomy 15 years ago or Chicago Med five years ago. But nope! The Canadian setting makes the Transplant status quo just different enough to keep me on my toes, medical drama veteran though I am.
The show also isn't just an American show set in Canada. Transplant itself is an import from CTV that NBC brought to American airwaves to start a fall TV season that is short on scripted offerings due to the pandemic production halts. Does the setting in a Canadian hospital with Canadian regulations and rules selling me on Transplant prove that I'm eager to please right now? Perhaps. But Transplant is still a refreshing addition to primetime, in my book.
Besides, the actual plot is engaging enough that I think Transplant would have what it takes to win a spot in primetime even if this was a typical and competitive season of television, and even though medical dramas aren't exactly few and far between. As I noted after watching the pilot, star Hamza Haq is so dynamic as Bash that he could carry a show with a far less interesting premise, but the premise itself is interesting, and Transplant is far from a medical procedural.
When Bash isn't working as a doctor, he's struggling to establish a life in Canada as the guardian of his young sister, serving as an overqualified resident whose future in medicine might be ruined due to the Syrian civil war preventing his transcripts from releasing, discovering that there is a lot he needs to learn about this new country, and forming relationships with the people around him. Throw in the friend who is being targeted by immigration, and Bash has a lot to deal with. And I'm happy to go along for the ride.
See what happens next for Bash and the rest with new episodes of Transplant on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. The show was already renewed for a second season on CTV, so a Season 2 is happening. Whether or not that Season 2 comes to NBC is a different matter. For now, medical drama fans can enjoy Transplant while waiting for the likes of Chicago Med, New Amsterdam, and Grey's Anatomy to return. For some additional viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule!