A second TV series based in Hawaii premiers tonight, but don’t expect to see panoramic shots of Waikiki. Hawaii is pretending to be a South American rain forest in Off the Map, a new medical drama on ABC.
The show features three “idealistic young doctors on the run from personal demons” who find themselves in a small town in the South American jungle working at a bare-bones clinic started by a “former wunderkind surgeon.” The series will delve into the personal histories of the doctors, played by Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfall), Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights) and Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter).
As you might expect from the producers of Grey’s Anatomy, it also makes use of the jungle setting by forcing doctors to improvise. According to an interview in TV Guide, coconut juice will serve as blood in transfusions, tree sap will have healing powers and insects will be used to cure gangrene.
At least one early reviewer gave Hawaii higher marks than the script, saying its greatest asset is its tropical setting. But ABC has ordered 13 episodes (it added six in October) displaying “high confidence” in the midseason series.
Off the Map has been shooting in Hawaii for six months, with its main set on Oahu’s north shore in Wahiawa. Because the series is set in South America, there have been acting opportunities for latino locals. Those involved in the Hawaii film industry are certainly hoping the series finds an audience.
For viewers caught in the mainland winter, there are now two opportunities each week to escape to Hawaii: Monday and Wednesday nights on television.