The sacred mini-series: New Amsterdam
By Michael Moriarty
Many “critics” might label New Amsterdam “sentimental”.
In terminology most appropriate for a hospital drama, I call New Amsterdam “mystic’ly divine medication”!
It literally heals me!
Amidst the unrelenting horrors of illness, disease and death, exists a group of human beings who know their work is beyond “special”.
It is, in my estimation, infinitely important!
A hospital is the closest thing on earth to “the arms of God!”
Miracles can and do actually occur in them.
They are a Cathedral without any prayer services!
Only the most vital of human hard work!!
The central character of New Amsterdam is named Dr. Maximus “Max” Goodwin.
We soon learn that, amidst all of his idealism, he is dying of cancer.
Bit of a doomed saint.
Except for the moments of his despair and depressing surrender to a death that hasn’t happened yet. Even then, with his impressive optimism about what a hospital “can be”?! We can’t blame him for his quixotic depressions!
Could we be doing any better in the demanding job and personal ambitions which he was apparently born with?!
He is, indeed, the eternal idealist.
My father was a doctor.
And my divine step-mother a nurse!
My father and I never got along really.
He reminds me of a much older version of the relatively young but gifted black, star surgeon of the series: Dr. Floyd Reynolds.
Rather like our leading man.
She also died of cancer.
Watching this series is like living my childhood all over again!
And there are happy endings to what appear to be hopeless situations.
Are all entirely credible?!
That depends upon your own personal optimism!
What makes the series profound in my eyes is the fact that the central figure, Dr. “Max” is simultaneously both radically optimistic and, yes, because of his cancer, depressingly cynical.
Who wouldn’t be?!
The other, even more “troubled” character?!
A female doctor, Lauren Bloom, who, as she herself finally says in a therapy session: “I was in trouble…. And instead of asking for help… I just pushed everyone away! And I haven’t any friends left! And I was wondering: why I even bother recovering…. You know?! … Why not let myself sink deeper down the hole?!”
She ends her very moving confession by saying simply, “Then the other night… a friend of mine came to visit.”
The hospital psychiatrist actually!
He informed her of her psychiatric situation and reports from the other doctors and nurses at the hospital about her increasing alienating ways.
“I’m really grateful that he did.”
It is a brilliant performance by Janet Montgomery because she never asks for sympathy in it until, of course, she begins to accept the reality of her own character’s rather tortured personality.
And the request for compassion is so convincingly performed, you can’t help but forgive her!
Because of her courage in having admitted the very, very painful Truth: she’s been utterly out of touch with herself!
And for far too long!!
I actually rejoiced during her admission in therapy! Why? Proving an ancient Truth as fact!
“The Truth shall set you free!”
The greatest of forgiving gods?
It is, indeed, the Truth itself!
If, of course, you actually accept and comprehend the Truth!
And a series like this?
Can and will renew your faith and hope for the human race.
Yes, the whole thing.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty