justin matchick looks at the new Jekyll & Hyde-inspired series…
A modern day spin on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Do No Harm tries to deliver a thrilling medical drama, but far too often relies on tired clichés or nonsensical plot developments to keep its story moving.
Steven Pasquale plays Dr. Jason Cole, a Philadelphia surgeon with dissociative identity disorder. Every day from 8:25 PM until 8:25 AM he loses control of his mind and becomes Ian Price, a violent, cocaine-snorting sexual deviant who causes as much trouble as humanly possible. For the past five years, in an effort to protect himself and those around him, he has been medically inducing himself into a coma every night when Ian would normally take over. On the night of his birthday, after rushing home to try and keep Ian at bay, he find the chemicals that suppressed him are not working anymore and that Ian has become immune to them.
Our first look at what Ian is capable of is a fairly ridiculous. Jason wakes up in bed literally surrounded by women. He walks out to his living room to find more stripped down and passed out women strewn about. In his bathroom he finds….even more half-naked and asleep women. It’s a weird scene that keeps getting weirder and ends with Jason finding that Ian has written “Happy Birthday” with a sharpie marker down his arms. The scenes involving Ian are definitely much more interesting than the rest of the episode, but he has barely any screen time in order for us to watch Jason struggling with the threat of Ian coming out and ruining his life. Scenes where Jason is in control, when we see him performing surgery or talking with fellow doctors, are standard at best and stilted and awkward at worst. Surgery scenes follow the same pattern you’ve seen a million times. The patient is dying, his levels are critical, beeps and buzzers sound off as nurses call for more meds. Other surgeons claim there’s nothing that can be done and it’s impossible to save the patient. Then Jason calmly fiddles around in the man’s brain and is able to stabilize him just in time. Anyone who finds this the least bit thrilling are either very young or have never seen a show set in a hospital in their life.
Like any other medical drama, we have our typical “patients of the week” who are ailing at the start of the show and are all cured by episodes end. The two major cases this week are Donald, a man who requires extensive brain surgery, and Sienna, who has a shoulder injury. Both of these medical cases wind up tying in closely to Jason’s problems. Donald is having post-surgery issues where he cannot recognizes anyone’s faces and becomes scared of his own reflection. Both Donald and Jason have trouble looking into the mirror because they’re not exactly sure who’s staring back at them. They are both men who have become detached from reality; the only difference is that Donald has a much easier time getting back to real life. Donald eventually needs a second brain surgery, one twice as risky as last time. Do you think they should let the man who’s been canceling appointments, missing out on important meetings, and showing up to work looking like he’s been in a fistfight perform this incredibly dangerous surgery? Why of course Dr. Young (Phylicia Rashad) would allow him to do an operation fellow surgeon Dr. Jordan (Michael Esper) says would leave the man unable to speak coherently. Why risk this innocent man’s life? Because Dr. Cole has a perfect surgery record so far, and this potentially deadly procedure can help the hospital get nationally ranked. Great job jeopardizing a man’s life for the chance to have your hospital mentioned in U.S. News and World Report Mrs. Huxtable, I’m sure Cliff would be so proud.
Sienna, meanwhile, tells doctors she sustained a shoulder injury playing tennis. When they go in for surgery they find that she’s actually taken repeated blows to the shoulder and, after checking police records, find that she has been abused in the past by her husband. Much like Jason is tied to Ian, Sienna has been living with someone who actively harms her, yet she still remains with him. She reasons that since they’ve been together for so long she should just live with the consequences, much like Jason tries to cope with Ian being a part of him for all his life. In the middle of all of this, Jason decides that Ian has become such a danger that he should call and warn his ex-girlfriend Olivia (Ruta Gedmintas). Jason and Olivia had almost married, but Ian’s violent temper took over and scarred Olivia, both emotionally and physically. Jason also has feelings for Dr. Lena Solis (Alana de la Garza) but has trouble expressing his feelings for her while avoiding explaining his dual personalities. At one point, Jason takes himself as far away from Philly as possible for when Ian emerges, yet Ian still manages to get a hold of Lena. Ian tries to play it smooth and get in bed with her, but winds up hurting and abusing Lena before they can get intimate. This causes her to lash out at Jason the next time they meet and strain a relationship which had barely gotten started. Jason and Lena will clearly have a complex relationship throughout the series, but the scenes between them just come off as so dull and flat, filled with odd dialogue and smarmy line delivery. Honestly, I’d rather watch Jason try and repair his relationship with Olivia than sit through episode after episode of Jason and Lena arguing about his split personality.
Eventually, Jason decides that he can’t just let Sienna continue living with an abusive husband, and uses Ian as a sort of superhero alter-ego by visiting the couple’s house just a few minutes before he turns. Ian is able to beat the husband into confessing to his crimes, fulfilling what Jason had probably wanted to do all along. The next day he successfully operates on Donald (giving us more of the same old surgery scenes) and all is good for now at least. Jason decides to make a truce with Ian; he will allow Ian to roam free at night as long as he stops causing havoc with Jason’s career and love life. Of course, Jason is using this as a ploy to give him more time to find a cure that will get rid of Ian once and for all. At its core, Do No Harm is a show that aims to be a thrilling twist on the medical drama genre, but it just winds up being too silly and formulaic for its own good. I’ll give it props for having the occasional entertaining scene when Ian comes into play, but the show is still far off from being worth your time.
Photo Credit: NBC/Universal