2 out of 5
Created by: Julie Puckrin
covers season 1
Initially coming across as a much more regional 9-1-1 variant – affecting something more “legit” than the twang-and-cowboy-hats Lone Star spinoff – Sky-Med’s Canadian air ambulance emergency procedural goes way light on the procedural bits, and wallows in typical TV relationship dramas instead. This can work, except when all of these interactions are scripted by subtlety-via-sledgehammer, and juggle the broadest possible character archetypes, sans even any unique identifiers to fill those out with much personality. You’re left with practically only that regional feeling, which does keep Sky-Med paddling along for its first season of nine episodes, and then eventually character threads do provide some value once they’ve gotten past their individual “this makes good TV, right?” grousing.
Our actors do their duties, but the direction here is angling for the back seats, putting us in soap opera territory but not effectively casting for that; there are occasional spices of fun malady-of-the-episode setups, but the show almost completely discards these after a few minutes, somewhat hilariously just using whichever random splash of gore or tragedy to trigger some obvious “this connects to my personal life” moment of reflection for whichever character’s subplot.
It comes back to the localized elements, which are thankfully wended through most of the drama instead of tacked on top: indigenous experiences are paramount, represented both by members of our core crew – pilots, nurses, acting as rescue and transportation teams to hospitals – and the patients / regulars who pop up along the way. While this stuff can still be over the top, it rings more of truth than just searching for who’s-sexing-who storylines. This goes also for incidental details, as the logistics of the air ambulance operations, though handled fleetingly, are interesting, and the Manitoba setting is unique in itself – both of these points in consideration versus the majority of TV, of course.
Should we get a second season, it’d be nice if the show continues with the relative maturity it achieves in its final episodes, and brings in more actual procedural elements. Then again, if it gets a second season, the lesson might be that people prefer the soap opera, though, to me, SkyMed doesn’t play well enough with those tropes, or have the type of enigmatic actors, to merit much attention in that vein, either.