Craving sophisticated characters or innovative plotting from "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff "Station 19"? Look away.
Fans of “Grey’s Anatomy” may be drawn to the tonally identical firefighter drama “Station 19,” (premiering 9-11 p.m. Thursday, March 22, on ABC) but viewers who crave sophisticated characters or innovative plotting might be inclined to scream “Fire!” in a crowded living room in an effort to escape.
Created by veteran “Grey’s Anatomy” writer Stacy McKee and executive produced by TV impresario Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal”), “Station 19” ticks off all the boxes for a Shondaland show: staccato voice-over narration, multiple strong female characters, a diverse cast, a love triangle, lighter moments of humor — all potentially beneficial features to a TV series but disappointingly deployed here in a predictable, rote manner.
The first hour of Thursday’s two-hour premiere is the most painful, with strained references to sliding down a firehouse pole that telegraphs how the hour will inevitably end.
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While “Station 19” includes the imported-from-“Grey’s” character Ben Warren (Jason George), he’s a supporting player again. The lead is difficult-to-like Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz), daughter of Station 19’s Capt. Pruitt (Miguel Sandoval). She provides the voice-over narration about imperfect ways to slide down a fire pole that doubles as advice on taking a new step in one’s life (“The trick is to breathe in and loosen your grip. Can’t overthink it. You’ve gotta grab on, take the next step. Trust yourself and let go.”)
In the first episode, Andy deals poorly with a series of potentially traumatic events. She becomes puzzlingly angry at her boyfriend when she discovers he intends to propose marriage. She barks at her hospitalized father. She bulldozes a police car parked too close to a fire hydrant. When former flame/neighbor Ryan Tanner (Alberto Frezza) asks her if she’s OK, she becomes belligerent.
“Station 19” confuses showing toughness with just being mean. The second hour does better by the Andy character, offering her challenges she responds to in understandable ways. But viewers can be excused if they check out after the first 60 minutes because they don’t want to spend more time with an unpleasant lead.
As for the Seattle of it all, beauty shots of the Space Needle and waterfront dominate. A small portion of the show’s first hour was filmed locally in October. A scene at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial at Occidental Park near Pioneer Square shows some Seattle color.
The second hour, shot entirely in Los Angeles with a smattering of Seattle establishing shots, features three generic outdoor scenes at a school, a nursing home and a vehicle accident that takes place at night, so no recognizable scenery is visible.
Other than the houseboat home of firefighter Dean Miller (Okieriete Onaodowan), “Station 19” is as Seattle-specific as “Grey’s,” which is to say, not very.
‘Station 19’: 9-11 p.m. Thursday, March 22, ABC. Starring: Jaina Lee Ortiz, Jason George.