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TV Series Review

Don't be fooled by the title of this show. It's not a series based on the 2004 Mandy Moore movie of the same name, nor does it feature any call to get right with the Lord (though one of the supporting characters is Mormon). No, this TNT original series is about medical professionals with serious issues.

Wyatt Cole (Tom Everett Scott) dropped out of medical school after two years ("I flunked sucking up"). He's still in medicine, though, as a paramedic. His domineering father, chief of medicine at the Portland, Ore., hospital where Wyatt's ambulance frequently ends up, tells his son outright that he's wasting his life and tries to bribe him into returning to med school. That bribe takes the form of paying off half of Wyatt's gambling debt.

Which brings us to a major theme of Saved: addiction. Wyatt is always playing the odds, even putting money on whether or not a man threatening suicide will jump. "It's not gambling," he explains to a concerned friend. "It's risk assessment."

His partner, John "Sack" Hallon (Omari Hardwick), is a recovering alcoholic who has a strained relationship with his ex and young son. Wyatt's ex-girlfriend and former med-school chum, Dr. Alice Alden (Elizabeth Reaser), is addicted to unreliable men—including Wyatt. And many of the patients they treat have been done in by one form of addiction or another. Shown in quick-cut flashbacks that replay each victim's history, we see a grotesquely obese heart attack victim who became hooked on junk food after his wife left him; an OD'd family man who slowly gave in to the allure of heroin; and a drunk driver unable to give up the bottle who now lies dying, pinned in the crumpled wreckage of his car.

Saved pulls no punches when it comes to showing the consequences of addiction. Wyatt's gambling isn't glamorized, but shown as a weakness. In fact, his rationalizations ring so hollow that even he doesn't seem to believe them. Unfortunately, in addition to complex characters and interesting story lines, viewers get rough language, coarse joking and graphic injuries. One gory moment occurs after a man gets his hand caught in a hydraulic machine press. Most problematic, though, are steamy sex scenes, particularly an encounter between Wyatt and Alice in the back of an ambulance. Both passionately strip to their underwear before the camera cuts to the outside of the rocking vehicle.

Michael Wright, senior vice president of original programming at TNT, is proud of this new show because, "Like the lead character's life and job, the series itself is an ambulance ride: fast, bumpy and full of the unexpected." Therein lies the problem. Despite good writing and above-average acting, Saved will be entirely too bumpy and unpredictable for families.

Episodes Reviewed: June 12, 19, 2006

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Tom Neven

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