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‘Map’ gets off to strong start

  • COURTESY ABC
    The cast and crew of "Off the Map" prepare for a scene, with the Koolau Mountain range as a backdrop.
  • COURTESY ABC
    Dr. Lily Brenner (Caroline Dhavernas), a new doctor at a South American clinic, attends to a situation on a zip line. In Wednesday's premiere episode, Brenner, along with fellow doctors Mina Minard and Tommy Fuller, arrive in La Ciudad de las Estrellas ("the city of stars"), a tiny town in the South American jungle which has one understaffed, understocked medical clinic.
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"Off the Map," the Hawaii-based midseason replacement series from ABC, premiered Wednesday night with the network’s biggest audience in that time slot in 15 months. The show about doctors working at a remote jungle clinic finished second in the hour with 7.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings released yesterday by the network.

Programming was slightly altered Wednesday night, however, as the networks worked around the Tucson memorial services and President Barack Obama’s speech about the tragedy there. ABC responded by airing an encore presentation of "Off the Map" last night instead of the normally scheduled "Private Practice."

On its premiere night, "Off the Map" finished behind NBC’s "Law & Order: SVU," which won the hour with 8.4 million viewers. CBS, which aired portions of two programs due to the memorial services — 20 minutes of "Live to Dance" and 40 minutes of "Defenders" — finished third in the hour with 6.7 million viewers.

"Off the Map" replaces "The Whole Truth," which premiered last fall and averaged 4.4 million viewers in the time slot, ABC said.

The series began shooting on a lush set in Whitmore Village last August and employs a cast and crew of about 120 people. The network has ordered 13 episodes, which will run through spring.

A typical network TV series works from a budget of $2 million to $2.5 million an episode, with two-thirds of that usually spent in Hawaii.

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