Brake alert! This story contains plot points from the series finale New Amsterdam.
Long ago, Good Doctors in New Amsterdam: Drama about an Old General Hospital from Creator/Executive Producer David Schulnerdirector/executive producer Peter Horton Universal Television wrapped its five-season run on NBC Tuesday. Launched in 2018, the series is based on the book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Mannheimer.
Here, Schulner and Horton reflect on what they did and didn’t do in the last episode, and why they think about it road Too early to end the drama that stars Ryan EggoldAnd Janet Montgomery, Joko Sims, Tyler Labine, Debra Monk, Matthew Jeffers, and Sandra May Frank.
Deadline Did you have a checklist at the end of things you wanted to include, like a chainsaw accident?
Peter Horton Yes, that was the whole premise of the episode. Chainsaws we thought, what can we do with a chainsaw?
David Schulner We only thought of our core team. How do we honor those characters we’ve come to know and love over the past five years?
Deadline Do you know how this is going to end from the start? Have you been imagining this ending for a while, you’ve come full circle with “How can I help you?”
Schulner We knew the end had to come from the beginning, just because that’s good for storytelling. So we definitely went back to the pilot to find where these characters started and what would be a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.
Deadline Have you been talking for a while about Max (Eggold) killing cancer?
Schulner I felt a little easy. And I did ER with Dr. Green. There are many offers that have come before us. We just wanted to avoid any duplication.
Horton And then we can’t go back and do it again.
Deadline Was determining your final medical condition a challenge? Did you go back and forth on it?
Horton Since every case in the history of medicine has been exploited by TV shows, including us…
Schulner We were stuck all day. We can’t think of the right thing. We banged our heads for a whole day, and I finally kicked everyone out. I said, “We leave Zoom, we take an hour, we take two hours, and then everybody comes back into the room and brings up something, they just have one thing that you think would make great terminal surgery.” I came back with some weird, $5 million computer generated like laser beam surgery. We were all just trying to find something big and crazy. Then Jay, our assistant writer, did the surgery that took 50 people. We immediately knew that was it because it was about our characters. It’s not about crazy surgery. It’s about all the characters we’ve had on our show for five years, for 92 episodes. And this surgery was a way for us to bring back all the characters who had surgery in New Amsterdam for one unique surgery. It was about the patient, but more importantly, it was about our characters.
Horton The Covid team was not happy. Other than that, it was a really cool idea. The show is primarily a personal piece. Medical conditions exist so that we can talk about these people and topics. When I asked about the ending, one of the things I loved about the way it turned out was how David’s 11-year-old daughter, Luna, introduced it to him first. [Max’s daughter] He returns as an adult. So it was a team effort.
Schulner A week later, another writer emailed me the same ending. And then a week later, I was on the set with Erica Green Swafford and she was like, “This is crazy, but what if this is the final scene of New Amsterdam and Luna’s return as an adult?” So three people in the space of three weeks had this collective vision.
Deadline I really expected the drunken woman Iggy couldn’t fit into the system to be found dead on a street somewhere.
Horton Well, I think one of the reasons she feels this way is because she’s such a good actress. You want to see her again. It’s just that she doesn’t really relate to our people. The ending really needed the people we had lived with for five years. It wasn’t about our issues, it was about our staff.
Schulner And by the final scene, it’s very clear that she’s going to die in the street. We don’t need to see that.
Deadline Did you know that no matter what, you want to end this with some hope?
Horton We had to leave people with hope in their mouths.
Deadline Are We Assuming Max and Elizabeth (Sandra May Frank) Stayed Together?
Schulner This is for you to decide.
Deadline Do you feel you have plenty of time to finish this exactly the way you want?
Horton Me, no. I still think this thing should have gone on for another two years. There is still a lot of story to tell and these characters are so much fun. David has created a wide range of amazing characters and I want to know more about all of them. We’re #3 on Netflix right now. I don’t think the public is ready for that either.
Schulner We are still ranked first in the time slot.
Horton It’s a little vague as to why it was canceled, to tell you the truth.