SPOILER ALERT! This story contains plot points from the series finale of new amsterdam.
So Long Good Doctors of New Amsterdam: The Drama About a Former Public Hospital From the Creator/Executive Producer David Schulnerdirector/executive producer peter horton and Universal Television ended its five-season run Tuesday on NBC. Launched in 2018, the series was inspired by the book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Manheimer.
Here, Schulner and Horton reflect on what they did and didn’t do in the final episode and why they think it’s way too soon to conclude the drama in which he stars ryan eggoldJanet Montgomery, Jocko Sims, Tyler Labine, Debra Monk, Matthew Jeffers, and Sandra Mae Frank.
DEADLINE Did you have a checklist before the end with things you wanted to include, like a chainsaw accident?
PETER HORTON Yeah, that was the whole basis for the episode. We thought chainsaws, what can we do with chainsaws?
DAVID SCHULNER We only think about our main cast. How do we honor those characters we’ve come to know and love for five years?
DEADLINE Did you know how this was going to end from the beginning? Had you been envisioning this ending for a while, that you would come full circle with ‘how can I help you?’
SCHULNER We knew the ending would have to come from the beginning, just because it’s good storytelling. So we definitely went back to the pilot to find out where these characters started and what would be a satisfying but surprising conclusion.
DEADLINE Did you talk for a while about killing Max (Eggold) of cancer?
SCHULNER It felt a little too easy. And ER did it with Dr. Green. There are many shows that came before us. We just wanted to avoid any duplication.
HORTON And then we could never go back and do it again.
DEADLINE Was it challenging to figure out what your final medical case would be? Did you go back and forth on that?
HORTON Since every case in the history of medicine has been exploited by TV shows, including us…
SCHULNER We were stuck all day. We couldn’t think of the right thing. We butted heads for a whole day, and I finally fired them all. I said, ‘we go on Zoom, it takes an hour, it takes two hours, and then everyone comes back in the room and comes up with something, they just have one thing that they think would be a big final surgery. I came back with a bizarre $5 million computer generated laser beam surgery. We were all trying to find something big and crazy. And then Jai, our writer’s assistant, is the one who introduced a surgery that needs 50 people. We immediately knew that this was the one because it’s about our characters. It’s not some 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 that we were able to bring back all the characters that have ever performed surgery in New Amsterdam for a one-time surgery. It was about the patient, but even more importantly, it was about our characters.
HORTON Our Covid team was not thrilled. Other than that, it was a great idea. The show is basically a character piece. The medical cases are there so we can talk about these people and issues. When you asked me about the ending, one of the things I loved about the way it happened was how David’s 11-year-old daughter brought it up to him first, which Luna [Max’s daughter] come back as an adult So it was a group effort.
SCHULNER And then a week later, another writer emailed me with the same ending. And then a week after that, I was on set with Erica Green Swafford and she was like, ‘this is crazy, but what if this was the final scene of New Amsterdam and Luna comes back as an adult?’ So three people in a span of three weeks had this collective vision.
DEADLINE I really hoped that the drunk woman Iggy couldn’t get into the system would be found dead on some street.
HORTON Well, I think one of the reasons you feel that way is because she’s a very good actress. You want to see her again. It’s just that she doesn’t really connect with our people. The ending really had to be about the people we’ve lived with for five years. It wasn’t about our cases, it was about our people.
SCHULNER And in the final scene, it’s very clear that he’s going to die on the street. We don’t need to see that.
DEADLINE Did you know that no matter what, you’re going to want to end this with some hope?
HORTON We had to leave people with a taste of hope in their mouths.
DEADLINE Are we to assume that Max and Elizabeth (Sandra Mae Frank) stayed together?
SCHULNER That is for you to decide.
DEADLINE Do you feel like you had plenty of time to finish this exactly how you wanted?
HORTON I do not. I still think this could have, should have lasted a couple more years. There are still so many stories to tell and these characters are so interesting. David came up with some amazing characters and I want to know more about all of them. We are number 3 on Netflix right now. I also don’t think the audience is ready for it to end.
SCHULNER And we’re still tied for number one in our time slot.
HORTON It’s a bit of a mystery why it got cancelled, to tell you the truth.
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