SPOILERS ALERT! This story incorporates plot points from the New Amsterdam series finale.
Goodbye, Good Doctors of New Amsterdam: The drama about an old public hospital from creator/executive producer David Schulner, director/executive producer Peter Horton and Universal Television concluded Tuesday on NBC. The series, which started in 2018, 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 last episode and why they think it’s way too soon to start the drama starring Ryan Eggold, Janet Montgomery, Jocko Sims, Tyler Labine, Debra Monk, Matthew Jeffers and Sandra Mae Frank.
DEADLINE For the finale, did you have a checklist of things you wanted to include, like a chainsaw accident?
Peter Horton Yes, that was the whole basis for the episode. We thought chainsaws, what can we do with chainsaws?
DAVID SCHULNER We only thought about our core cast. How do we honor these characters we’ve come to know and love over five years?
DEADLINE Did you know from the start how this was going to end? Have you been imagining this ending for a while, that would come full circle with “How can I help you?”.
SCHULNER We knew the ending had to come from the beginning simply because that’s good storytelling. So we definitely went back to the pilot to find out where these characters started and what a satisfying but surprising ending would be.
DEADLINE Have you talked about killing Max (Eggold) from cancer for a while?
SCHULNER It felt a little too easy. And HE has it with Dr. made green. There were many shows that came before us. We just wanted to avoid duplication.
Horton And then we could never come back and do it again.
DEADLINE Was it a challenge figuring out what your last medical case would be? did you go back and forth there
Horton Since every single 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 rubbed our heads against each other for a whole day and finally I sent everyone away. I said, “We exit Zoom, take an hour, take two hours, and then everyone comes back in the room and throws something up, just have one thing that you think would make a great final operation.” I came back with a bizarre, $5 million computer-generated operation. We were all just trying to find something big and crazy. And then Jai, our writer’s assistant, is the one who set up an operation involving 50 people. We knew right away that it was because it’s about our characters. It’s not about some crazy operation. It’s about all the characters we’ve had on our show for five years in 92 episodes. And this operation was a way to bring back all the characters that have ever been operated in New Amsterdam for a unique operation. It was about the patient, but more importantly, it was about our characters.
Horton Our Covid team wasn’t thrilled. Other than that, it was a really cool idea. The show is basically a character play. The medical cases are there so that we can talk about these people and these issues. When you asked about the ending, one of the things I love about the way it came about, as David’s 11-year-old daughter first suggested to him, was that Luna [Max’s daughter] comes back as an adult. So it was a group effort.
SCHULNER And then, a week later, another author emailed me the same ending. And then a week later I was on set with Erica Green Swafford and she said, ‘This is crazy, but what if this was the last scene of New Amsterdam and Luna came back as an adult?’ So three people in three weeks had this collective vision.
DEADLINE I really expected that the drunk woman Iggy couldn’t get into the system would be found dead on a street somewhere.
Horton Well, I think one of the reasons you feel that way is because she’s such a 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 lived with for five years. It wasn’t about our cases, it was about our people.
SCHULNER And in the last scene it’s very clear that she’s going to die on the street. We don’t need to see that.
DEADLINE Did you know that you definitely 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 You have to decide that.
DEADLINE Do you feel like you had enough time to finish this exactly the way you wanted it?
Horton I don’t I still think this thing could have, should have, run for a few more years. There are so many stories left to tell and these characters are so interesting. David just came up with a whole bunch of amazing characters and I want to know more about all of them. We’re #3 on Netflix right now. I also don’t think the audience is ready for it to end.
SCHULNER And we’re still number one in our time slot.
Horton It’s a bit of a mystery as to why it was cancelled, to tell the truth.