It’s been a year since most of us entered into some sort of lockdown due to the current pandemic. In that year, so much has changed for in our world. As with any industry, the entertainment industry also has been affected by the pandemic.
New Amsterdam was in the process of filming a new episode and had to shut production down. Due to the shutdown, the series only filmed 19 of its 22 episodes for Season 2. That led the creators behind the series to make some changes and adjustments for the upcoming third season which premieres on Tuesday, March 2nd at 10/9c.
One of the individuals tasked with those changes and adjustments was Executive Producer/Director Peter Horton. We had the chance to sit down with Horton to talk about what changes were made for the third season of New Amsterdam, what it was like working during the pandemic and what fans can look forward to with Season 3 of New Amsterdam.
**SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the Season 3 premiere, do not read any further until you do! SPOILER ALERT**
Pop Culture Principle – Where does New Amsterdam pick up when it returns for its third season?
Peter Horton – What we realized way back in June when we started writing these episodes, not only was there a world pandemic that hit specifically New York City, which is where our show is based, but then George Floyd was murdered. We suddenly realized that this season wasn’t going to be what we thought it was going to be. We had to throw everything out the window and start all over again.
We kind of tried to read the future, which we can’t do, but we tried anyway, and it looks like we got lucky. God willing, it looks like the pandemic is starting to slow down a bit. The very first episode of the new season starts with a montage of what everyone went through with the pandemic. We really felt like we had to honor that because our medical advisors on our show are from Bellevue hospital, so they are pretty intimate with what they experienced, and we felt we needed to honor them and all front-line workers by giving them this opening montage that is all about them and what happened.
After the montage, it’s a season that is all about feelings. We’ve all gone through and are still going through a catastrophic and certainly in our lives, an unprecedented experience that has taken its toll, especially on front-line workers. So, how do we dramatize and describe the journey of coming out of it? How do we rediscover our relationships? How do we rediscover this new normal? How do we rediscover ourselves in this new normal? How do we do the things that we took for granted before this happened and find our way back to our humanity and ourselves?
That ended up being what this season is about. It’s about healing and how you come back from this which our show is uniquely and ideally positioned for because it is about Bellevue hospital and it’s about trying to fix the system, which was the original tagline. The tagline this season is appropriate which is let the healing begin. That is how we are trying to straddle giving the pandemic its due, but also trying to give it what New Amsterdam does so well and that is give hope.
Pop Culture Principle – The hospital was already underfunded and understaffed, so will this pandemic bring to the forefront those particular issues and how Max will try and either fix or tear down/build up the system?
Peter Horton – One of the things this pandemic does, which is good for drama, is that it makes every problem worse. Everything has an added weight to it and an added intensity to it. The first couple of years Max was pretty good at solving problems, now he’s got a much steeper climb with everything and he’s going to be humbled and stymied at times.
As he is doing this, he has to deal with his own personal weight of this experience. When we start the season, his daughter is staying with his deceased wife’s parents because he doesn’t want his daughter around the hospital or anywhere New York at all. So, how does he become a single father now? How does he have a life? How does he have relationships with everyone in the hospital and in his life? So, it’s wonderfully rich with fuel. We have a lot of fuel this season to create some really tense drama.
Pop Culture Principle – Before the end of the second season, we see Dr. Reynolds leave to take a job in San Francisco. Where the plans for the character altered because of the pandemic and is there the possibility that he may return in Season 3?
Peter Horton – Where we’ve left him is off to San Francisco with his fiancé and to have a life. Well, everything has been turned upside down, including his life and you will see pretty soon what that means for him and his future at New Amsterdam. It’s either a great setup for a spinoff or it’s a diversion to bring him back somehow. Either way, we love him and that character.
Pop Culture Principle – Will we find out if Max and Helen ever discussed what happened in her office between them? Was that going to be dealt with in the Season 2 finale?
Peter Horton – Had we not run into a pandemic and had to stop our season short, we were going to address that. We realized that we owed the audience some sort of resolution. So, yes, we know we owe the audience a resolution to that and to those two characters in general. That relationship was a discovery for us. We never planned for them to have this longing for each other until we saw the pilot. The two of them just have this chemistry together that is undeniable, so we just followed it.
So, we have to play it out somehow. All I can say is for those people who want to see this thing played out in some fashion, they will be very satisfied this year in terms of us servicing that and seeing where it’s going to go.
Pop Culture Principle – Daniel Dae Kim’s character Dr. Shin is part of the team now and definitely could shake things up. He is the complete opposite of who Max is. Would you agree with that?
Peter Horton – Yes, absolutely. They are both very lovable in their own ways, but very different ways. It’s interesting, David Schulner and I were just talking about this. Dr. Shin definitely represents that sort of cowboy, arrogant, cocky trauma surgeon vibe that you see in these guys all the time. They think they are God.
Along with that, probably because of what Daniel Dae Kim brings, there’s such a lovability about him and such charm and humor and sweetness to him, that he’s able to carry along with the arrogance that for me, makes him a full body character. It’s a good foil for Max whose arrogance is almost non-existent. It’s a great dynamic between Max, Sharp and Shin which you’ll see playing out all season. The cool thing about Dr. Shin is that he is going to have conflict coming with all sort of characters this season which will be really fun to watch.
Pop Culture Principle – Near the end of Season 2, we see that Iggy may be dealing with an eating disorder. Will this be explored in Season 3?
Peter Horton – First, let me say something about the actor Tyler Labine who plays Iggy. It’s going to be an amazing experience to watch him this year. What he does, the boldness he exhibits, the courage as an actor to really follow this storyline about body image and body shaming and eating disorders, I have never seen anyone be this bold as an actor going into this storyline. You will be blown away by it and it is profound.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you give us a few nuggets that fans can look forward to with the third season of New Amsterdam?
Peter Horton – Let’s see, Bloom has a great twist coming this season. There is a left turn for her this season that is not going to be expected at all. Also, there is the issue with Dr. Kapoor. We really felt we needed to honor the gravity of what these front-line people went through by giving one of our lead and beloved characters COVID and making them have to deal with it in a real way and not a television way. That is his journey this season. What’s it like to really go down that road and see how you come out of it or if you do.
A huge thank you to Peter Horton for taking the time to talk with us about the new season of New Amsterdam. You can catch the season three premiere of New Amsterdam on Tuesday, March 2nd at 10/9c on NBC.
**All photos courtesy of Virginia Sherwood/Zach Dilgard/NBC**