CBS’ Pure Genius Is Not What The Doctor Ordered

Written by Megan LaBruna

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Plot- A young tech billionaire (Augustus Prew) opens a hospital with the hopes of treating patients who cannot be helped by regular medical practices.  While this hospital is a great inspiration, his drive to make advances in modern day medicine may have a more personal motive behind it than others realize.

Medical dramas always suck me in.  I see the new previews for each of them and I can’t wait to see the first episode.  So I was very hopeful for CBS’ newest medical drama Pure Genius.  Not only does it have all the excitement of a regular medical series, but it also has new age tech ideas mixed in.  It appeared to be House mixed with Silicon Valley, and since I love both of those shows, I was very excited to delve into Pure Genius.

The premiere left me somewhat underwhelmed, however.  The pacing was a bit slow and the characters still need some time to learn to read each other.  While these signs don’t necessarily mean the show will not perform well, it’s not a great way to start off.  It was similar to how I felt about Limitless.  It took a while to get their footing, and unfortunately by the time they found it and the show had become much more interesting, it was cancelled.  I’m hoping this does not happen to Pure Genius, because I think much like Limitless, if they can find their groove the drama will take off. I just hope it happens before CBS starts making cuts.

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The show itself features a very young and very successful tech billionaire, James Bell (Prew) who has decided to open a new age hospital where anyone who has a good idea is able to share and doctors are asked to work with the entire staff to create innovative ways to help cure patients.  Many of the patients at this hospital are there because they could not find help anywhere else.  The one downside to Bell’s way of running things is that he refuses to allow for bad news.  Unfortunately that’s not how life works.  Not everyone can be saved all the time, even with the latest and greatest advances in technology.  This of course was not the case in the first episode however, where (spoiler alert) all things came up rosey for the patients.  

Bell has enlisted a team of doctors including his newest addition, Dr. Wallace (Dermot Mulroney) who was let go from his last job for using a trial drug not yet approved by the FDA to attempt to help save his patient.  This thinking caught the eye of Bell and the rest is history.  The remainder of his team centers around the potential love interest, Dr. Brockett (Odette Annable), the highly successful Dr. Channarayapatra (Reshma Shetty), the innovative Dr. Verlaine (Aaron Jennings) and Angie (Brenda Song) who isn’t actually a doctor, but works to find and locate special cases for the team to recruit.  

The potential is there for this show to take off.  It’s interesting how they use modern technology, and technology that I’m not entirely sure exists yet to help try to accommodate their patients and help them heal.  For example, Bell acquires a company that has created wearable tech to try to reach a patient who has been in a coma for six months.  The helmet allows for a stream of consciousness to be transmitted from one person to the other.  It must be nice to have that kind of money to just buy a company like that.  But again, his instincts were right about the tech, because while it is a long shot they try it on the patient and the doctors are able to see brain activity and even hear a response from the coma patient.  Whether or not they’ll ever be able to wake her though, is a completely different obstacle.  But at least with their modern device, they were able to confirm her brain is still active.

Of course no person, despite how much money they have just does something this involved without having some kind of personal connection to it.  Spoiler Alert! We do find out at the end of the episode that Bell has the genetic markers for a highly rare degenerative disease.  So his entire reason for truly creating this hospital is to hopefully cure this disease before it begins to affect him.  While the hospital may have been built for selfish reasons, it appears to be doing a whole lot of good in the mean time.

I think if the show can work out the kinks, it will be one worth watching.  The cases are interesting and the cast has the potential to create that cohesiveness required to make a multi-character show become believable.  If you enjoy tech and medicine, and you have the time to invest in another medical drama then check out CBS’ Pure Genius.

Rating: 5