When details about ABC’s newest medical show, “Off the Map,” began to surface last spring, critics quickly found their catchphrase, but producer Shonda Rimes insists that despite first impressions, “OTM” is not “‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in the jungle.”
We “put the scalpel in the hand of Indiana Jones,” she tells critics at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour. Showrunner Jenna Bans points out a key difference between doctors on “Grey’s” and the “Off the Map” crowd.
On “Grey’s,” the doctors are the cream of the crop. Derek Shepherd is the best neurosurgeon, Meredith Grey graduated from Med School with shining colors. Many of the “Off the Map” doctors have taken refuge in the jungle, where resources are low and technology is primitive, for a reason.
“These actors are embodying characters who really aren’t at the top of their game professionally or personally,” Bans says. “These are really characters who need to start over, need to really reinvent themselves.”
Aside from the jungle (which is a fictional, unspecified location in South America that the cast and crew teasingly refers to as “Shondaland”) being a great backdrop for wanderers, it adds a new twist to the medical side of the show as well.
“It allows us to tell stories, medically, that haven’t been told on TV. The jungle is their pharmacy, their medical cabinet,” Bans says.
It also gives the actors a fun new adventure off-screen. “Our first day of work was to see how comfortable we were in the ocean, and they took us snorkeling with giant sea turtles,” says Rachelle Lefevre.
“There was one night of skinny dipping,” teases Martin Henderson.
“What happens in the ocean stays in the ocean!” interrupts Jason George.
We doubt it.