'Rush' review: An excellent doctor, a good show and a bad guy

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"Rush" is a maybe-good show about a maybe-bad guy who is an excellent doctor to horrible people. The USA drama starring Tom Ellis has plenty of charm and a killer premise, but will audiences love the bad boy or reject the anti-hero?

What is it?

A super-discrete doctor to the stars in Los Angeles, Dr. Will Rush lives and works in a hotel, drives a convertible, gets paid in cash, listens to bad music and crashes his godson's birthday party while high on a drug of some sort. He refuses to care about the morality of either his own life or of the choices his clients make.

But this is occasionally difficult, even for a Peter Pan-like man who refuses to grow a conscience -- in the pilot episode alone Rush has to deal with a drug overdose, a shooting, domestic violence and a wealthy man with an unmentionable injury.

Rush isn't a lone wolf though. He has a best friend, a doctor friend from medical school who now has a family and a responsible job. There's a secretary/assistant/designated moral compass as well. Rush is even kind of friendly with his personal drug dealer. A charming man, Rush hides his darkness well in public.

What works?

Dr. Rush is a major asset to this show. Ellis seems to know that there is a fine line between being a charming rogue and being an annoying dirtbag -- and he stays just on the right side of that line throughout the show. This is not a good man, but he isn't an evil person either. Rush just focuses on himself and lets the world slide by as much as possible.

Moralizing is thankfully at a minimum from the other characters too. Yes, there are the occasional, "You know you're doing a bad thing, right?" moments, but no one sits on a pedestal, judging Rush from a position of moral superiority.

The cases, meanwhile, are quite fascinating and offer a voyeuristic look into the lives of the wealthy and powerful. And who doesn't love seeing bad things happen to rich and awful people?

What doesn't work quite so well?

If there is one jarring note in all of "Rush," it is the arrival of the main character's former girlfriend, Sarah, the designated love of his life. The two briefly rekindle some passion before she summarily drops Rush again and walks away. That's all well and good, but this single episode doesn't give the audience enough time to care about this vaguely introduced woman.

It doesn't help that Rush is a total mess around Sarah. All of that control melts away just a little too rapidly, quickly returning the second he leaves her presence. The show might have been better to leave that piece of the past hidden for awhile, surfacing with Sarah only when we were desperate to understand Rush's damage.

Still, this is a pretty minor part of the premiere, and the girlfriend is expected to be no more than a recurring face as the show moves forward.

End result?

"Rush" is a pretty good pilot that could turn into an excellent addition to USA's lineup of complicated character dramas. So long as everyone can refrain from judging Rush for his bad-boy behavior, everything will work out just fine.

After all, who doesn't love the bad boy?

"Rush" premieres Thursday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on USA.

Photo/Video credit: USA