Skip to content

Review: Heartbeat (NBC) - So bad it gave me heartburn

By on March 23, 2016



Formerly titled Heartbreaker, Heartbeat revolves around a brilliant heart surgeon (Melissa George, The Slap) who has a terrible love life. See the corny irony in that? (Of course you did, it is way too obvious.) That’s what Heartbeat is all about. It’s juggling corny drama clichés while adding a little (probably unintended) slapstick here and there, all the while taking itself way too seriously. When compared to police procedurals, Heartbeat would be The Mysteries Of Laura pretending it is the new The Killing.

It all starts when Dr. Alexandra Panttiere (George) boards a flight on the way to an extremely important speaking engagement. But of course, she has to kick a Jesus-like guy out of her seat, the kid behind her keeps kicking her chair, and if that wasn’t enough, she has to save the Jesus’ life (operating on him in the aisle using a credit card and a straw. Don’t ask). But get this: She actually tried to pretend she’s not a doctor, because hello, she was preparing for her important speech. And at the end of it, the overwhelming emotion she has is not about having saved someone’s life, but disappointment that her fancy blouse got blood all over it.

Back at the hospital, it turns out that our amazing doctor really is as brilliant at her job as we were told she is. But first, she is having a party because some woman was declared brain dead (and is donating her heart to one of Alex’ patients). Then, she’s giving a tour to investors, only to have the hospital board decide to give the donor heart to one of the investors’ father after signing over $100 million to the hospital.

Alex is hopefully better at quintuple bypasses than at juggling her three lovers and two children at home (and two of the lovers work at the hospital as well). First, there is colleague and current boyfriend Pierce (Dave Annable, Brothers & Sisters). He’s an all-round great guy who has no problem putting up with Alex’ two young sons, her gay ex-husband Max (Joshua Leonard, Togetherness), and fellow doctor Jessie (Don Hany, Serangoon Road) who is also her idol and long-time crush. In fact, she once performed surgery with Jessie by pretending she was someone else (apparently it is that easy to crash a surgery). Oh and also, Jessie is a big fan of Max’ music, which we know because he was wearing a t-shirt with a huge picture of Max’ face on it. Way to be subtle, Heartbeat..

Speaking of subtle, there is still the loose end of the patient in need of a heart transplant. When hearing the news about the heart that was given away (Alex actually told Pierce: “Jessie stole my heart”), the patient’s boyfriend went up to the roof of the hospital and threatened to jump in order to provide a new donor heart for his girlfriend. Of course, Alex is the first one at the scene, and she tries to talk him down by telling him that his organs will be crushed if he jumps. He agrees, and (I promise this actually happened) he proceeds to pull out a gun and shoot himself in the temple, splattering blood all over Alex’ clothes again. But hey, problem solved!

Heartbeat is trying to present serious drama with a girl who’s been on the waitlist for a good long time and will finally get a heart, only to get it taken away from her at the last minute. And the show is right, that story would make for very serious drama, if only it wasn’t handled in such an utterly ridiculous manner. At the same time, it is trying to make the viewer relate to Alex’ relationship drama. But wouldn’t any woman in her right mind be happy with a boyfriend like (this version of) Dave Annable? Heartbeat is trying very hard to be a lot of things, but sadly it is succeeding at none. The single upside is that, at times, it is so bad that it is funny.

Heartbeat is on hiatus. It returns on Wednesday, April 20th at 8/7c.

  • anne mielke

    One of the reviews said this was season 1. This program needs to be revived already. Unless it becomes more realistic, both medically and personally,there will be no season 2. It is dead.