Boston Med

The TV medical drama may have hit hard times lately, with Mercy, Miami Medical and Three Rivers all limping off the air. But Boston Med (Thursday, 10/9c, ABC) reminds us truth is often much more compelling than recycled fiction.

With pulse-quickening immediacy and wrenching intimacy, this summer ABC News docuseries tracks life (and sometimes death) over four months inside three renowned Boston hospitals: Massachusetts General Hospital, Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital. We get to know a community of caregivers, many struggling to balance the stress of the job with a personal life. The real relationships that matter, though, are between patients and their families and the staff in whose hands they put their lives.

The centerpiece of this week's episode is the case of Baby Michael, born with a congenital heart disease, and parents Nicole and Mike Sr., who shuttle between three hospitals during the infant's first 22 hours of precarious life. "I just want it to be over with," sighs the tough-as-nails but emotionally spent Nicole.

It will be weeks, however, before the baby is ready to undergo corrective surgery. "I think he's used up his bad luck," says the cardiac surgeon who prepares the parents for the ordeal to come. Complications from human error ensue before this harrowing story reaches its end. "I am a lot stronger because of this," says Nicole.

Boston Med never heightens or cheapens its storytelling with newsmag-style manipulation. It's the real thing, at times feeling almost too real.

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