*TNT’s new medical drama “Monday Mornings” got an interesting bit of publicity last month when its co-star Ving Rhames told a room full of TV critics he was glad to have a TV gig “on a level a bit above some of the Tyler Perry shows.”

Rhames owes half of his gratitude to David E. Kelley, (“Chicago Hope,” “Harry’s Law,” “Ally McBeal”), the show’s executive producer and writer of tonight’s pilot, premiering at 10 p.m., and the other half to practicing neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who wrote the book that inspired the series.

Both the show and the book follow the lives of five surgeons in a Portland hospital who are practically ripped new ones each week by the chief of surgery (Alfred Molina) in weekly morbidity and mortality (M&M) meetings, when doctors gather with their peers for a confidential review of errors in patient care.

ving rhames monday mornings

Rhames, who plays trauma surgeon Dr. Jorge Villanueva, wouldn’t even have a role to compare to Tyler Perry’s fare had Kelley acted on his original hesitation.

“At first I had a reservation of the project itself because I had done a medical show before. I met with Sanjay. He told me about the book. It sounded great, but the terrain sounded a little familiar with ‘Chicago Hope.,’ he told us. “Then I read the book and saw that it was completely different. The characters were different. The stories were different, and the staple of this book was these M&M meetings. It felt like fertile storytelling ground, and I probably was drawn to it because it was different.”

Below, Dr. Gupta explains how these M&M meetings work.

Watch a five-minute preview of the “Monday Mornings” premiere below.