On September 1, NBC premiered the “Pilot” of Transplant, which had been the most-watched television series for the 2019-2020 season when it aired in Canada. The title is a play on words, as transplant is not only a medical term, but applies to the main character, Bashir Hamed (Hamza Haq), a doctor from Syria who is a refugee in Canada working at a restaurant.
If the exciting, and at times, outlandish, premiere is anything like the typical medical drama, the series is going to be quite intense, likely with a message viewers are supposed to hear.
From the start, it’s clear that the show is trying to provide a commentary on the experiences which refugees encounter when living in a new country.
Within minutes of the opening scene, a truck crashes through the restaurant where Bashir is working. Although injured himself, Bashir knows just how to diagnose and make split-second decisions to save the lives of people trapped in there with him.
Bashir is brought to the hospital along with the other injured, including the highly esteemed Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah), who just so happens to work at that hospital. The emergency room department scrambles around with the flair and drama you’d expect as they scurry around to save their boss, all while refusing to listen to Bashir who is trying to share relevant information.
Who does take the most interest in Bashir is a Caucasian officer. He takes notice of our main character because he believes Bashir may have had a role in the accident.
“You said he’s Middle Eastern?,” the officer asks a doctor. Once the officer catches up with Bashir, he begins to question him, though they get interrupted by Dr. Magalie Leblanc (Laurence Leboeuf), one of the emergency room doctors:
Officer: You’re from Syria. Why did you come to Canada?
Bashir: There’s a civil war there.
Officer: And we took you in. You’re a refugee. What are your plans here? Do you have an education?
Bashir: I’m working hard to build a life.
Officer: That must be stressful. Starting over. I see it all the time. People get desperate.
Bashir: very grateful for the opportunity Canada has given me.
Officer: You have a strange way of showing that.
Bashir: I was only trying to help–
Officer: Help that kid? Yeah, you said. What you were doing in that restaurant?
Bashir: I already told you. I work there.
Officer: Yeah, you did say that, but after everything else I’ve seen from you, why should I believe you?
Bashir: I wasn’t driving that truck.
Officer: But you know who was.
Bashir: No. I don’t.
Magalie: Hi. This man needs medical attention. Excuse me. Lift your shirt and lie down, please?
By the episode’s end, everyone is fine, which includes the now awake Dr. Bishop who wants to speak to Bashir. The two have met before, when Dr. Bishop interviewed but wouldn’t hire Bashir. Well, Dr. Bishop is going to let him interview again, presumably to give him a job so as to set the rest of the show in motion.
Transplant is enjoyable, even with such a commentary. If you feel it’s not obvious enough, though, just leave that to the woke Los Angeles Times and their trending article on Twitter, “Meet the ‘polarizing’ new medical drama that comes for anti-vaxxers and racists.” That’s the real title, by the way.
In addition to telling these “anti-vaxxers and racists” off, LA Times staff writer Ashley Lee praises the “unique perspective” which “allows for it to tackle a number of plotlines that haven’t been seen before in the venerable medical drama genre, at least not in this way.”
Lee reminds readers that “Microaggressions on the medical floor are a regular part of his shift,” linking to an article from last month making such a claim.
The article felt the need to inform readers that while it was confirmed “that there are no Syrian writers on staff,” there are consultants. “The subject of who should tell which stories on TV remains fraught, of course, both in the U.S. and in Canada,” Lee insists.
The anti-vaxxer situation, not in the premiere episode, is referred to as an “experiential point of view.” Not much is known about the characters in that plot, though something tells me the show will let us know exactly who they are when the time comes.
It’s not very likely that the show will run out of material to provide to the staff writers at the Los Angeles Times who are ready and willing to make sure viewers consume the messages they’re expected to.