'Good Sam' stars Sophia Bush, Jason Isaacs debate surgery, family

Sophia Bush plays a surgeon on "Good Sam." File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 5 | Sophia Bush plays a surgeon on "Good Sam." File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Good Sam, premiering Wednesday on CBS, pits father against daughter in life-or-death decisions.

Sophia Bush, 39, who plays Dr. Sam Griffith, said her character clashes with her father, Griff (Jason Isaacs), in and out of the operating room of Lakeshore Sentinel Hospital.


"Both of these people are right," Bush said on a Television Critics Association Zoom panel. "Both of these people have a reason to believe what they believe."

At the beginning of Good Sam, Sam is considering leaving her position as attending physician at Lakeshore Sentinel. When a disgruntled patient shoots Griff, Sam takes over as chief of surgery while her father is in a coma.

When Griff wakes up, he's more surprised to find Sam in charge than to discover his own condition. After his six month coma, Griff requires a proctor to monitor his recovery.


Sam volunteers to proctor Griff, leading to clashes over medical decisions.

"Sam is an optimist," Bush said. "Griff has learned hard lessons, and he's pragmatic perhaps to a fault."

While Bush said that Sam encourages doctors to be more empathetic, Isaacs, 58, said that Griff lacks empathy.

"It's not that we're uncompassionate," Isaacs said. "I think Griff has learned to be objective or distanced from it."

Griff's injury has not humbled him, either. Isaacs said Griff wakes up convinced he should resume his chief of surgery role.

"I can talk as my character," Isaacs said. "I don't think she should be running the hospital. I think I have much more experience and skill."

Isaacs said something more than hospital administration is bothering Griff. Having saved lives through his practice, Isaacs said, Griff struggles to stand by while Sam and her staff make those life-or-death decisions.

"To take all the power away from someone who is strutting that large, and then to completely, in some ways, emasculate them, is an incredibly interesting dynamic," Isaacs said.

While portraying the family drama of heart surgeons, the cast of Good Sam strives to portray the surgeons as accurately as possible. Bush said she and co-stars conduct medical rehearsals and practice between takes so their surgeries appear real.


"I sat there tying one-handed surgical knots," Bush said. "Sometimes it's an incision. Sometimes we're running catheters."

Bush said she made an actual incision on a chest prosthetic in an open-heart surgery scene.

"We've got to get it perfect, because very often we have one shot," Bush said. "They're building prosthetics for us to learn exactly how to use the bone saws, exactly how deep to cut on something. "

Bush has played characters with specialized professions. In the Chicago Fire/Med/P.D. series, Bush portrayed detective Erin Lindsay. Before that, she starred on One Tree Hill for nine seasons.

Bush said she considered studying heart surgery until she discovered acting in high school. She said she also draws on her theater training to work on the set of an operating room.

"I started doing theater both as an actor and studying lighting, tech, and props, which has served me well on a show like this," Bush said. "I have 1,000 props, and lots of them are sharp."

Isaacs previously played a doctor in The OA and A Cure for Wellness. He also played a starship captain on Star Trek: Discovery, a detective on the show Awake, a wizard in the Harry Potter films and various military roles in Black Hawk Down, The Patriot and Green Zone.


Isaacs said he also relates to Griff because he has two daughters, 19-year-old Lily Isaacs and 16-year-old Ruby Isaacs. Although Lily and Ruby are not yet working alongside him, Isaacs says he sees a bit of his own future in Griff.

"They're already smarter than me and more capable of navigating the world," Isaacs said.

Good Sam airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on CBS.

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