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'Rush' might be USA's darkest -- and most interesting -- show

At first glance, USA’s new show Rush looks like it takes Royal Pains‘ “doctor-for-hire” theme, adds Tom Ellis to the mix, and throws on a bad-boy label just for fun. But after last night’s premiere, it turns out that what you think you see with Rush is not at all what you get.

In the series’ pilot, viewers meet Dr. Will Rush in a less-than-flattering scenario. In other words, he’s doing cocaine with a young woman when she has a heart attack and he’s forced to shock her back to life and then take her to the nearest “club,” which looks a lot like an emergency room. Still high himself, Rush drops the woman off with his best friend, an ER doc, and then heads back to his life of doctoring on the run. Basically, Rush makes house calls for a living. He’s one of the best doctors around, but his skill isn’t his only draw. Rather, it’s his ability to be discreet that puts him in such high demand.

Rush is the guy you want to call if you’re a famous athlete and your girlfriend needs stitches after you’ve physically abused her, for instance. Or he’s the guy you want to call if you’re a famous movie producer who just broke his penis and you don’t want the paparazzi to catch you on the way to the hospital. Rush makes up his own fees on the spot—and they’re high—and asks for cash payments upfront.

But between Rush’s own drug addiction and some of the situations his “discreet” job gets him in, Rush is a much more sinister character than the charming bad boy the show originally portrayed him as. In the pilot alone, he agrees to help his drug dealer, which results in him having to operate on a gunshot victim in a warehouse with a gun to his own head. And as for Rush’s personal life, the woman he loves refuses to get back together with him because his work and his addiction make him someone she can’t count on. Rush might be successful, but the way he lives his life causes him to struggle with right and wrong on a daily basis. By the end of the pilot, he has to make a house call to once again help out one of his best clients, a famous athlete, after said athlete nearly beats his girlfriend to death. In that moment, Rush reaches a breaking point and takes a bat to the athlete, breaking his legs, hand, and more.

So do Rush’s actions make this show darker than typical USA programming? Not necessarily. USA is no stranger to violence (Graceland) or the rebel-type (Burn Notice). However, the darker side of USA shows tends to be just that—one side. For example, Royal Pains‘ Hank once had a problem with pill addiction, but it was a storyline that didn’t stick. Or there’s USA’s Suits, where the definition of “dark” typically involves Harvey and Mike playing dirty by getting personal in the work world. What sets Rush apart from other USA shows is that it is fundamentally dark—and that darkness is not simply one element of the show but intertwined into every element of the show.

For example, going into the rest of the season, Rush is without the woman he loves, he’s still dealing with his addictions, and he’s fallen into an accidental relationship with a group of gangsters. Although he might not look it on the posters, he’s an incredibly troubled character, not just a charming guy with a dark side. Sure, he still has a lighter side and a sense of humor that makes him fun to watch. But at his core, Rush is profoundly unhappy—a fact that makes him 10 times more fascinating than the guy viewers got a glimpse of in the trailer.

All in all, Rush’s chaotic and morally ambiguous lifestyle makes USA a more interesting place to be. Although Rush can’t quite be called an antihero, this show could be seen as USA’s attempt to join into the Walter White bandwagon. Rush is certainly not that extreme, but as the golden age of TV has shown us, people enjoy a complex (if not downright evil) protagonist, and if there’s one thing Rush is not, it’s a perfect hero.

Video: 'Rush' star Tom Ellis shares his lovemaking soundtrack of choice

Dr. William Rush is a private doctor with a penchant for self-medicating. His drug of choice? Eighties pop music. Oh yeah, lots of cocaine. Tom Ellis, the actor who plays the title character of USA’s new show Rush, shares a deep and abiding love for one of the doctor’s vices—fortunately, though, it’s not one that will land him in prison.

Ellis shared his fondness for shlock pop while taking EW‘s Pop Culture Personality Test: “When I got the briefing from [executive producer] Jonathan Levine about Rush’s taste in music—and it was, of course, that he has terrible taste in music—I was, like, ‘Great!’ So I opened up my backpack of ’80s guilty pleasures. The Debbie Gibson stuff and the Katrina & the Waves, all of that is on a playlist that I created for the character. All of that I actually secretly love.”

What other unexpected ’80s nods popped up during the Welshman’s Test? And how do amorous foxes figure into one of his confessions? Find out before Rush debuts tonight. READ FULL STORY

Nominated for Nothing: 'Rush'

Just about every year, brilliant movies are utterly ignored by the Oscars. The Searches, Groundhog Day, Breathless, King Kong, Casino Royale, Touch of Evil, Caddyshack, Mean Streets, The Big Lebowski, Shame — the Academy has a long history of overlooking comedies, action movies, horror flicks, hard-boiled genre pics, artsy foreign films, and documentaries that aren’t about World War II. This year, we’ll be taking a closer look at films that were too small, too weird, or perhaps simply too awesome for the Academy Awards. These are the Non-Nominees.

The Film: Rush, the true-life tale of Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda and their odd-couple rivalry, which burned up the Formula One world during the ’70s and to this day remains one of the great moments in Formula One history.

Why It Wasn’t Nominated: Formula What? The Academy doesn’t pay much attention to movies about sports that aren’t boxing, and Rush had a particularly difficult hill to climb, since the average voter probably doesn’t know about this very European story. Star Daniel Bruhl’s turn as the icy bucktoothed Lauda was a physical transformation comparable to past winners like Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln or Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote, but since Bruhl is a lesser-known actor playing a barely-known true-life person, he didn’t get the typical biopic bump. READ FULL STORY

Rock And Roll Hall of Fame answers one great mystery of rock music: When did Rush get so cool?

It’s always been a great irony of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that induction ceremonies might be the least rock ‘n’ roll thing ever. But Public Enemy, Rush, Heart, Donna Summer, Quincy Jones, Lou Adler, Albert King, and Randy Newman took their spots in the canon last night — the actual ceremony happened at L.A.’s Nokia Theater in April, but HBO didn’t air it until a month later — it was clear that many of them must be big fans of irony.

Randy Newman kicked things off with his anthem “I Love L.A.,” which got the whole crowd of Los Angelenos (including Jack Nicholson) earnestly singing the refrain “We love it!,” even though the song mocks their hometown. Later, Dave Grohl noted that Rush were being honored despite the fact that they’ve always been ignored by the mainstream press, especially Rolling Stone, whose editor in chief, Jann Wenner, co-founded the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. The best moment of the night came when Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson managed to give his entire acceptance speech using only the words “blah blah blah.” Speaking in different intonations and using hand gestures, he was able to convey the whole story of the band, right up to the surprising phone call that informed them that they were being inducted (“Blah BLAH blah?”), and the thanks-to-fans-like-YOU! speech that followed. (“Blah blah BLAH!” he said, pointing at the crowd.) He somehow managed to send up every awards-show speech ever — and maybe the whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame itself — at the same podium where they’re so revered. If you ask me, that’s just as rock ‘n’ roll as any music that earned a golden statue that night.

READ FULL STORY

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