NEW YORK – If you've been hankering for a new doctor show based in San Francisco, be careful what you wish for because now there are two of them.
And they're both on at the same time too, 10 p.m., which isn't so much a coincidence as it is hard evidence that no matter how much the networks try to differentiate themselves, the truth is, they're all pretty much the same.
Take Presidio Med on CBS. It's getting what the networks call a "sneak preview" tonight at 10 and then takes up its regular Wednesday-night residency (doctor pun!) tomorrow night at 10.
That puts it in direct competition with ABC's MDs, which used to be called Meds until someone at ABC figured out that might confuse people.
Of the two, my money's on MDs because it strikes me as the medical show more likely to be sampled by viewers who are already fans of the two medical dramas from which MDs seems to have been grafted -- ER and St. Elsewhere.
On the other hand, Presidio Med -- starring Dana Delany and Blythe Danner -- seems to have been inspired by General Hospital.
MDs takes place in an over-crowded city hospital catering mostly to lower-income San Franciscans. Among the characters are two maverick doctors who could be named Hawkeye and Trapper John, a cost-conscious HMO representative and his nurse/informer, a wide-eyed intern, the hospital's by-the-books attending physician and dozens of extras.
Of the characters, I especially like the earnest young intern Maggie Yang, who is played appealingly by Michaela Conlin, and the rebellious heart surgeon Bruce Kellerman (William Fichtner).
While the MDs of MDs will look familiar to fans of TV doctor shows, they avoid (narrowly, at times) classification as two-dimensional cliches.
That distinction goes to the doctors of Presidio Med, which isn't a hospital really, but a private medical practice that looks like a hospital.
Less than seven minutes into Episode 1, and before the opening titles, a newborn baby is already fighting for its life. Later, a hardass football coach played by Gerald McRaney will refuse medical attention for his bum ticker and the firm's young, pretty doctor will have a cancer scare -- definitely more drama than any doctor's office I've ever seen.
Presidio Med is a soap opera which CBS hopes will appeal to women, but who I feel confident will reject it outright.
Unfortunately, neither show makes much use of its San Francisco location so if you're hankering for pretty pictures of the City by the Bay, then I suggest you watch Monk.