It’s quite the lofty goal of having three connected dramas on one network. NBC attempted that feat this fall with the newest Chicago Fire spinoff, Chicago Med. It hasn't received the best of reviews, but thanks to solid ratings and a consistent fanbase, NBC decided to give it some good news: the network ordered five additional episodes of the show, enough to complete its first season.
This is a huge step forward for the medical drama, especially considering some behind the scenes issues it had while attempting to get on the air. While Chicago Fire and Chicago PD have mostly generated good headlines, Chicago Med had a more rocky path to primetime. Although, the struggle is a summation of a few factors.
Trouble in paradise began a few months ago when it was announced that The Walking Dead actress Laurie Holden would no longer be appearing in Chicago Med. Holden, who played popular character Andrea in the first three seasons of The Walking Dead appeared in the backdoor pilot for Chicago Med, but bowed out of her role before the show proceeded to produce its first season.
Shortly thereafter Chicago Med lost its showrunner in television producer Andrew Dettmann. While both Dettmann and Holden’s departures are apparently respectful and not the cause of internal drama, it’s certainly a fair amount of mix ups for a show in its infancy.
Add that to the plethora of medical dramas already on the air, and it's no wonder many fans were worried about the program before it premiered. In addition to the Shondaland juggernaut that is Grey’s Anatomy, CBS premiered a new medical drama, Code Black, which has been gaining momentum in ratings consistently. With those two series airing on Thursdays and Wednesdays respectively, fans of the genre would have to sit through three days straight of medical dramas if they also signed up for Chicago Med on Tuesday evenings. Fortunately, the fans did show for Chicago Med.
It's been winning its timeslot every week with an average of almost 9 million viewers, plus everyone else joining on DVR later. Now, with a full season, the writing team can now plan a larger story that will hopefully give the series more of an arc. Rather than focusing on simply the patients in the hospital, the story can begin to pace itself properly and create a compelling character-driven experience for the audience. That should help some of the quality issues fans have been complaining about.
Per Variety’s article, all three of the Chicago based series will have a crossover event in January, where each ensemble of actors will be able to interact with each other. This will undoubtedly bring viewership to Chicago Med as well. If the Chicago team was wise, they’d put the best block of the crossover event in Chicago Med’s hour in hopes of creating new viewers that will stick.
Chicago Med airs on Tuesdays on NBC.