On June 21st, ABC debuts its new gripping medical drama COMBAT HOSPITAL starring Michelle Borth and Elias Koteas. Sharing a bit about what the show is about, Michelle said that she plays Rebecca Gordon a trauma surgeon, who is newly appointed as a major in the Canadian forces in Afghanistan and also works under Elias’ character Col. Xavier Marks, who helps Rebecca acclimate to a world where supplies are scarce and time is of the essence every second of the day.
To prepare for the role, Michelle admitted to doing a fair amount of research, including watching surgeries online. In fact, she was surprised to find out how much you can learn from YouTube! She also worked diligently with the on-set medical consultant, who she said is their most valuable resource helping them with the tough medical lingo and mimicking medical procedures. In fact, they had to actually learn how to do some of the basic procedures to add to the realism.
What drew Michelle to such a tough subject matter and tense project was the simple desire to portray a strong, independent, intelligent — yet tragically flawed – woman. She is drawn to such roles and really loves strong ensemble dramas in particular because it allows one to go in so many different directions. Plus, she loved the content of it – she thought he heavier, dramatic aspects would be a challenge.
For his part, Elias agreed and said that it was ultimately the writing that persuaded him. It was the best-written script he had seen in awhile and as soon as he saw it he knew he wanted to be a part of it. He was immediately ready to jump into the COMBAT HOSPITAL world because of it. In portraying Col. Xavier Marks, Elias understands that because his character is in a leadership role, he cannot just be friends with his subordinates. There is a line of separation that tinges his character with an edge of loneliness and adds the stress level and pressure upon him. Xavier does not have the luxury of a shoulder to cry upon – the doctors are not his peers and he has to demand that they step up and follow orders with so many lives on the line — accountability and authority must be maintained.
As to what to expect in the first season, Michelle said that the way the show plays out is that the viewer sees it all for the first time from the point of view of Rebecca and Terry Chen’s character Captain Bobby Trang — seeing how they adjust to life in a war zone and all the struggles and conflicts that arise. As Rebecca and Bobby learn the hard way, the other characters teach them and help them find their way and their footing — and there are relationships that naturally evolve from the close proximity in heightened circumstances.
When asked why the show is set in Afghanistan in 2006, Michelle and Elias mentioned that the time period was deliberately selected to convey a sense of urgency at a time when the world was still uncertain about whether the military presence had a right to be there. Plus, it limited some of the newer technological advances just within the last five years. To create this specific world, it was necessary for these characters to feel a bit more removed from the world they have previously known – to be in a cocoon in our modern world. Particularly as they are supposed to be working in a make-shift hospital, making do with what they have without a lot of modern day resources.
On the technological side of things, Elias noted that the set used to film the series is perhaps the largest one he has worked on for a television show. It was built from an original medical unit, so the trauma bays and OR rooms look almost identical to the real ones.
When asked if any of the characters are portrayed as adrenaline-junkies, being doctors in a combat zone, Michelle noted that really the show focuses on who these particular doctors are and that they are all about the medicine. They are simply gifted and courageous people who know how to react in difficult situations. They are able to be calm in the midst of the storm of the war around them. Thus, the adrenaline-rush is more for the actors than for the characters because the show is fast-paced, high-stakes.
Be sure to catch COMBAT HOSPITAL when it premieres on Tuesday, June 21st at 10:00PM on ABC (Global TV in Canada)
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).