Caroline Dhavernas, Tessa Thompson, Martin Henderson
Off the Map may seem like Grey's Anatomy in the jungle, especially with executive producer Shonda Rhimes attached. But series creator Jenna Bans tells TVGuide.com that the show will set itself apart.
How? Jungle medicine.
Map centers on three doctors, portrayed by Caroline Dhavernas, Zach Gilford and Mamie Gummer, who venture to South America to work at a clinic with less than hospitable surroundings and a natural lack of resources. "Here, it's 1952: You don't have high-tech, you don't have big pharma, you have your brain, you have your instincts," Dr. Ben (Martin Henderson) explains to the new doctors after he punches a guy in the face to act as anesthesia in the pilot's opening moments.
Check out photos of Off the Map
"From the first frame of the show you see that this is not an environment we've ever been in before in terms of a medical show on TV," Bans says of the new series, which films in Hawaii.
"They always have to improvise and use what's available to them," she adds. Watch for coconut juice to serve as "blood" in transfusions, for tree sap to demonstrate healing powers, and for insects to cure gangrene. "It'll make for very, very different medical cases than you see on those other two shows."
A perfect example of the different type of cases you'll see in Map is one inspired by last year's Chilean miners rescue. "That's a funny example of something that probably could have worked on any of the shows, but just because of the particular boundaries of our show — we actually get to go into the mine, which the doctors on Private and Grey's can't do as easily — we snagged that one. It's going to be a really good episode."
ABC orders more Off the Map
While the series will focus on the unconventional methods used in medicine, it will also delve into the lives of these three not-so-perfect doctors. "They're not necessarily the heroes you see on Grey's and on Private," Bans says. "They're not doctors who are at the top of their careers and are the top of their field. They're people who are really, as we see in the pilot, messed-up and are coming down to this place to give back, but also to start over in their personal lives."
The pedigree for Map is certainly there — Rhimes is executive-producing with Betsy Beers, who comes from Grey's and Private as well — but Bans says the show speaks for itself. "People will definitely come to the show because they're fans of Shonda's and they're fans of Grey's and Private. That's great because we definitely want to take advantage of that audience, but once the show starts airing, it stands on its own," Bans says.
"It doesn't become just a relationship show. We definitely have a good balance between that action-adventure medical component and fun relationship stuff that's going on."
Off the Map premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on ABC. Will you be watching? Tell us now!