Spoilers ahead for the series premiere of Good Sam on CBS.
CBS has officially gotten into the medical drama game with the debut of Good Sam, starring Sophia Bush in her big series regular return to network television after her exit from Chicago P.D. in 2017. As Dr. Sam Griffith, Bush – in her first turn playing a doctor on TV – takes on a leadership role at her hospital by becoming chief of surgery… with the complication that her father (played by Jason Isaacs) formerly held that position before ending up in a coma after being shot. When he awakes and must work under his daughter, there are more problems than just medical mysteries for Sam to deal with.
The show packed a lot into the pilot episode to establish not only Sam and dad Rob “Griff” Griffith, but also her mom and her team of doctors who are used to following Griff’s lead rather than Sam’s. CBS was the only broadcast network without a medical drama prior to Good Sam, and recruiting a TV veteran like Sophia Bush and a big name like Jason Isaacs was a strong way to start. So, how does it compare to the other, long-running medical dramas on TV?
Well, the medical show with the most similarities to Good Sam is arguably The Good Doctor, over on ABC. That show also focuses primarily on surgeons rather than emergency medicine or any other department, and features a parent/child dynamic that is fundamental to the series. Admittedly, Shaun and Glassman on The Good Doctor aren’t technically father and son, but that family element is there. Plus, there’s Shaun and Lea, unless their big fight results in a break for good. Griff seems a little less inclined to fully support Sam than Glassman is for Shaun, though!
With Sophia Bush the forefront of the show and her character in the title that’s a play on words (“Good Sam” for “Good Samaritan”), there are clear parallels between Good Sam and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, which of course stars Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey. In addition to the female lead, the two shows share a focus on surgery. That said, Grey’s has been running for 18 seasons so far, so its characters have far more history than even what the pilot exposited about Sam.
With Sam revealing early on that she had heart surgery as a child, it’s easy to make a comparison to Ryan Eggold’s Max Goodwin over on NBC, although Max’s struggles with his health happened in the first season of New Amsterdam rather than decades in the past. That said, Sam and Max have a position of authority in common (or did before Max’s latest big decision), even though the NBC show focuses on multiple different departments in one hospital rather than just surgery.
The comparisons between Good Sam and The Resident – which is Fox’s only medical drama – are a little fewer and farther between, although there was a strong family dynamic central to The Resident up until Emily VanCamp’s departure and her character’s death. Still, there are a lot of found family members on the show, and its success proves that a network doesn’t need multiple medical TV shows to enjoy a long run.
Arguably the medical drama with the fewest similarities to Good Sam is also one of the biggest on television: NBC’s Chicago Med. The One Chicago series mostly centers the medical action on the emergency department, although surgery and psych are also important to the storytelling. Med is more of an ensemble show, compared to Good Sam with Sophia Bush as the clear lead. It’s also a spinoff, which fundamentally sets it apart from the other shows in the genre.
So, does Good Sam have what it takes to become the next medical TV show hit and follow in the footsteps of those that are already successful? Only time will tell on that front, but Sophia Bush has proven herself as a strong TV actor thanks to One Tree Hill and then Chicago P.D. In an interesting twist, Good Sam is actually airing up against Chicago P.D. over on NBC on Wednesdays, filling the slot previously held by CSI: Vegas. See what happens next with Bush’s new show with new episodes on CBS on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET in the 2022 winter premiere lineup.