March 23, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Station 19″”


STATION 19:  Thursday 9PM on ABC – In the Queue

STATION 19 probably marks the end of an era at ABC:  unless a pilot developed under her watch is picked up, it will be the last new Shonda Rhimes series at the network, as she moves on to her huge new deal at Netflix.  Fittingly, it’s a spin-off of her first and biggest hit Grey’s Anatomy, created by longtime Grey’s writer/producer Stacy McKee, and although its milieu is firefighting rather than medicine, the two shows share a slick procedural soap sensibility.

The overlapping character between Grey’s and Station 19 is surgeon-turned-fireman Ben Warren (Jason George), whose TV wife Miranda Bailey makes a brief appearance in the Station 19 pilot (so does Ellen Pompeo, who also gets a Co-Executive Producer credit on the new series), but as on Grey’s, he’s just a member of the ensemble here.  The central protagonist is Andrea Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz), who’s thrown by the end of the opening hour into a custom-made series of plotlines.  At Station 19, she works for Captain Pruit Herrera (Miguel Sandoval), who is indeed her own father, and she’s having a hot relationship with the station’s Lieutenant Jack Gibson (Grey Damon), although not hot enough for her to commit to the engagement he wants, conveniently opening the door for her to form a triangle with Jack and Ryan (Alberto Frezza), a hunky cop who happens to be her high school ex and next door neighbor.  But wait, there’s more:  also by the pilot’s end, Dad Herrera has to step down from his post for health reasons, which sets up a competition between Andy and Jack for the Captain position.

The other characters are more sketched-in for now:  gay widower Travis (Jay Hayden), good-natured womanizer Dean (Okieriete Onaodowan), former athlete and Andy’s “person” Maya (Danielle Savre), and teeth-grinder Vic (Barrett Doss) among them.  The opening two episodes, both written by McKee and directed by Paris Barclay, are mostly devoted to the Andy plots and the set-piece procedural crises, which are notably much more visually spectacular (and expensive) in the pilot than in episode 2, although the latter does feature a cool ethanol fire.

Ortiz brings exactly the kind of steely yet compassionate quality to Andy that Rhimes seeks in her heroines, and McKee is an experienced hand at squeezing flirtatious banter and heartfelt monologues amidst the fires, high school bathroom births, and domestic accidents.  The pace is swift, and the soundtrack is kept busy with emotional needle-drops.

There’s nothing particularly special about Station 19, and some will prefer the more strenuously gritty Chicago Fire (which airs immediately afterward on NBC) or the over-the-top spectacle of Ryan Murphy’s 9-1-1.  The show delivers, though, and that reliability is something ABC will miss in its new Rhimes-less world.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."