Traditional wisdom has it that teen types are likely to have fun at the beach, at a mall, at parties or even — in the best of all possible worlds — at school.
Ah, but then there’s TV wisdom and TV wisdom now says the bestest possible place to spend your youth, to make friends, to fall in love and have meaningful experiences, to party and live life to the fullest is ... a hospital.
Specifically the pediatric ward of a hospital. That’s where the first new show of the fall TV season, Fox’s “Red Band Society,” takes place. And what a cool scene. Beer bashes at night on the roof, pot-smoking in the janitor’s closet, wheelchair races down the halls — yahoo!
Of course, you have to be seriously sick to get in the door. In the opening episode, a guy even gives up a leg for the privilege of joining the fun. If this show goes a full season, you can pretty much count on more body parts disappearing, not to mention an endless parade of deathbed arias.
But it’s all part of the wacky hospital world. Let’s meet the lucky characters who get to hang there:
Coma boy: His name is Charlie (Griffin Gluck), he’s younger than the rest of the gang and despite his condition, he’s the voiceover narrator who says things like, “Imagine how hard it is to make friends in a coma. I’m at a serious disadvantage here.” Ha-ha, oh that coma boy.
The cheerleader: Spoiled rotten and mean, Kare (Zoe Levin) comes in with a broken arm and finds out she needs a heart transplant. It’s like winning the lottery, she gets to stay and continue saying things like, “Stop with the word vomit!”
Cancer teen 1: His name’s Leo (Charlie Rowe), he’s already lost a leg, he’s bald from chemo and sort of the rebellious unofficial team leader.
Cancer teen 2: He just shows up and the hospital admits him, no parents or apparent insurance, just come on up and we’ll operate tomorrow. His name’s Jordi (Nolan Sotillo).
Anorexic girl: Emma (Ciara Bravo) doesn’t like to eat. She does look cute in hats, though. And she has both a dark sense of humor and some much-needed empathy. What she’s doing in a hospital is a bit of a question, but ...
The Playa: That would be Dash (Astro), a pot-smoker with cystic fibrosis who tries to get down with a pretty nurse. After all, it’s not sexual harassment if you’re a sick kid.
And, of course, there are the overseers: Nurse Jackson (Octavia Spencer), tough but caring, and handsome Dr. McAndrew (Dave Annable), who is indeed handsome. To spice things up, there’s even an eccentric hypochondriac hippie (Griffin Dunne) who’s so rich he lives at the hospital.
All these cliches bounce off one another in a slick combination of gallows humor, inspirational bonding, deep thoughts and maudlin moments. It’s just like “Glee” except nobody sings and most people are dying.
Oh, wait, that’s not like “Glee” at all. Fox may want to think about that. “Red Band Society” is proof positive that even in this golden age of programming, TV knows no shame.
‘Red Band Society’
9 p.m. Wednesday