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Young doctors tan as they learn on ‘Off the Map’


9 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays on WLS-Channel 7

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

I wanted to like “Off the Map” because it clearly means well. “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes brings us another soapy doctor drama, set in a lush jungle instead of a hospital. Hawaii stands in for a remote South American village where “baby docs” try to redeem their medical careers at a godforsaken clinic.

Gosh, maybe while they’re saving the natives, the young, attractive doctors will learn a little about themselves, too.

You can’t say Rhimes and her team don’t capitalize on the location: The first episode features a coconut transfusion that needs to be rewound to be believed. But the show is a mixed bag.

The good:

Mamie Gummer is very funny as a workaholic who gets excited by infectious diseases. Yes, she’s Meryl Streep’s daughter, but she’s an original. And the excellent Zach Gilford, who played a laid-back good boy in “Friday Night Lights,” here plays a laid-back party boy. I could listen to him drawl all day.

The bad:

I am not a fan of the white-people-rescuing-the-world cliche. It’s patronizing. But it’s also mitigated by the fact that the doctors have to rescue so many stupid tourists. On tonight’s premiere, Michael McKean guest stars — distractingly — as a vacationer who gets mangled by a zipline. It’s a bit of a shock to see him there, dangling bloodily from the sky like a piece of meat.

The ugly:

Speaking of blood, there’s a great deal of it — too much for “Off the Map” to qualify as family entertainment. It’s one thing to see graphic surgery on “Nip/Tuck,” but this show seems determined to one-up the arm-amputation movie “127 Hours.” I prefer my medical emergencies to have a little mystique.

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