This Monday night on Monday Mornings (TNT, 10/9c), Dr. Tina Ridgeway faces a personal M&M of sorts, to account for the croaking of her marriage, all while an actual 311 meeting delivers a wake-up call for many of the doctors. Jennifer Finnigan shared with TVLine a preview of this and future episodes – including a ‘haywire’ finale – and also opened up about giving her real-life hubby/cast mate Jonathan Silverman tips for his on-screen kissing.
TVLINE | I know you’ve played a doctor before, and I’m sure you’ve been offered such roles since. What was it in particular about Monday Mornings that drew you?
I think the fact that Sanjay Gupta and David Kelly were involved. I just kind of felt like there was so much potential there. I loved the writing of the pilot, I loved the angle of the premise, the fact that it wasn’t just about…
TVLINE | It’s not about infallible heroes.
Exactly. That it wasn’t about these God-like figures who are champions constantly. I mean, it’s really about their mistakes and their vulnerabilities and them being held accountable. That spin wasn’t something I’d seen before.
TVLINE | But would you have shaved your head for the role (as Alfred Molina did for Episode 2)?
Well, it’s funny you ask that because the finale actually has a strange twist related to that….
TVLINE | Talk about this week’s episode, where guest star Ioan Gruffudd is the subject of the M&M.
I always enjoy it when it’s not one of the core cast that’s being brought up to the 311, because at that rate, why are any of us still doctors? Some of my favorites were when Hal Holbrook was called up there, and in the pilot with the doctor whose nickname was “007.” Ioan is fantastic. I don’t know how much to give away, but basically one of the nurses made a lethal mistake. But the surgeon takes the responsibility.
TVLINE | In such a situation, a doctor can’t just throw the nurse under the bus?
No. The nurse obviously faces consequences as well, but the bottom line is he’s the one in charge in that room. So, it’s sort of a wake-up call for all of us.
TVLINE | And next week, Tina has her first storyline with Dr. Sung (played by Keong Sim).
I know. His character is just so quirky with the sort of one line here and there. I remember feeling extremely jealous because I had all of these medical jargon ridden monologues….
TVLINE | And he’ll get, “Not do, die.”
Yes! For my every seven lines he had one word. But it was so fun because that chemistry I hadn’t explored yet. It’s such a big cast, so I found myself throughout the season working with these actors that I so admire and enjoy.
TVLINE | But has there been no backlash for the way he speaks? In my review of the pilot, I felt like someone would have a problem with this.
I’m sure people do, but quite honestly, this isn’t unrealistic. There are a lot of doctors out there who were doctors in their country and then moved here for a better life and have to go through the whole system again. I think Keong handles it beautifully. As you watch the show, you see that this doctor really has the best of intentions.
TVLINE | On the personal front for Tina, the husband is back this week, and it sounds like he is determined to make her and Ty (played by Jamie Bamber) pay for their adultery.
Let’s just say he takes some legal action against not just me but the hospital. He gets creative about his revenge. You know David Kelly — he can’t help but sort of add a legal twist to just about everything – and you’re going to get it in this one, for sure.
TVLINE | Is this the real deal between Tina and Ty, or are they still feeling their way around?
I think they’re still feeling their way around. We finally sort of had romance this episode that just aired, in the shower — I think fans were relieved to see some kind of connection between us — but I think Tina is really conflicted, coming out of this long marriage. I don’t think she’s ready to make any serious commitments yet. Ty is probably more ready than she is, and you see a hint of that this week.
TVLINE | Now, getting to your other husband.
The real one? [Laughs]
TVLINE | What’s home life like for you guys there now that you’re working together?
I remember being all at once excited and concerned when he became more prominent on the show, because we have such a beautiful balance in our relationship. I thought, “Oh God, are we going to work together all day and then live together, 24 hours a day? It’s just going to be too much.” But actually it was great.
TVLINE | I remember watching the pilot and being like, “Wait, is that Jennifer’s husband…?”
We tried to keep it quiet. Originally, the character was named Dr. McMillan. But when they found out that Johnny was my husband, they said, “We want to write him in” and all of a sudden the character changed to Dr. Lieberman. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Have you and Sarayu Rao (who plays Dr. Sydney Napur) gotten past that awkward stage of her having an on-screen thing with Johnny?
Sarayu has become one of my best friends. Like, we talk on the phone incessantly and are always out to lunch together. First of all, I do love scenes all the time — I started in soaps [as The Bold and The Beautiful‘s Bridget Forrester], so it’s just routine for me.
TVLINE | And with your “brother,” sometimes!
Don’t remind me! [Laughs] So while they were filming their first kiss, I was texting him saying, “Just be gentle. It’s her first time.” And I was texting her saying, “How was it? Was he a good kisser?” That stuff doesn’t faze me for a second; in fact it makes me laugh. I always am like, “Honey, give her a good one. Make it look real.”
TVLINE | What do you guys have planned for the finale? It sounds like one of the patients might go a little haywire.
One of the patients goes haywire and one of the doctor’s lives is at stake. It’s a really intense finale with a really crazy twist that definitely sets up an interesting Season 2.
TVLINE | And how are you feeling about that, honestly?
I’m praying for it. We have a really loyal audience in the people who have stuck with us. I’ve never had such a positive reaction from any show I’ve been on. Out of the gate, the reaction was a bit mixed — people didn’t know if the kid dying in the pilot was just for shock value — but then every episode got stronger. I’ve never had people tweet me just to say, “This is my favorite show,” “I’m obsessed with this show,” “I love this show”…. Jamie and I make a point of live-tweeting a lot during the episodes. I’ve just never been more proud of a show, and I feel like there are so many stories we can tell.