*With the new season of “America’s Got Talent” down 3 percent from last year’s premiere, it’s lead in to NBC’s new scripted series “The Night Shift” drew enough viewers to give the network a resounding overall ratings win Tuesday night.
In fact, NBC put out a press release stating that “The Night Shift,” a medical drama following doctors and nurses in the wee hours of a San Antonio hospital, had the biggest NBC summer drama series debut since “The Philanthropist” in 2009.
Less worthy of a mention by the network, it’s also the lone new drama this summer to star an alum of Tyler Perry’s “Madea” franchise.
You may know JR Lemon as Oliver, one of the male leads in “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.” However, viewers of “The Night Shift” know the actor as Kenny, the hot nurse who keeps the doctors in check at San Antonio Memorial, and isn’t shy about breaking a rule or two to get things done.
The Atlanta-born, Stanford grad was drafted as a running back by the Oakland Raiders after finishing college. He was eventually released and moved to LA, where he was bitten by the acting bug and booked numerous national commercial and print campaigns before landing the “Madea” gig.
Also in his first major television role is Robert Bailey, Jr. as new intern Paul Cummings, fresh out of med school, eager to please and still adjusting to the rigors of an emergency room.
The Minneapolis native has previously had roles in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening,” opposite Mark Wahlberg; “Coraline,” with Dakota Fanning and “Mission to Mars.” He also played the lead role in Hallmark Hall of Fame’s “Little John.”
“The Night Shift” focuses primarily on Dr. TC Callahan (Eoin Macken). He’s coming off of three tours in Afghanistan and is first seen in the pilot applying his battlefield techniques to an emergency situation.
The nightshift staff includes TC’s best friend Topher (Ken Leung), protégé Drew (Brendan Fehr), new night shift boss – and TC’s ex-girlfriend – Dr. Jordan Alexander (Jill Flint), and psychiatrist Landry de la Cruz (Daniella Alonso).
Overseeing the staff is new boss Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez) who has to balance the real-world pressures of cutting costs while battling the stigma that he is more interested in saving money than helping people.
Below, Rodriguez explains the complexity of playing such a character.
The series premiered with 7.78 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49, which has to count as a big success for NBC, as the medical drama even did a respectable 7.36 million viewers and 1.5 key demo rating in its second half-hour.
By comparison, CBS’ “Person of Interest” averaged 5.32 million viewers for second place, followed by ABC’s “Celebrity Wife Swap” pulling just 3.375 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
Watch the pilot episode below.