Do No Harm (NBC) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review
‘Do No Harm’ is NBC’s modern take on the classic Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. The question is whether it manages to bring something new to that story, or that it is just a repetition of the over-a-century-old tale. ‘Do No Harm’ premieres on January 31st, on the night of the ‘30 Rock’ series finale, at 10/9c on NBC, but is already available to watch online on the network’s website and Hulu.
For those of you who aren’t that familiar with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the important part is that they are two very different personalities that share one body. In the original version, Dr. Jekyll is a distinguished doctor, who wants to blow off some steam at night. Therefore, he designs a potion that turns him into Mr. Hyde, a lowlife with no moral compass whatsoever. It initially works like a charm, but later Hyde starts to take over Jekyll’s life and ultimately commits suicide. (Or should I say murder-suicide?)
In ‘Do No Harm’, Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale, ‘Rescue Me’) is the moral compass of the two. He is chief neurosurgeon and has basically devoted his life to help people, both on and off the job. Cole has Dissociative Identity Disorder (commonly known as multiple personalities), and instead of using a potion to turn into his alter ego, he takes a strong mixture of sedatives every night at 8:25 pm, just when he starts to transition, to knock him out.
Cole started sedating his alter ego, Ian Price, after the latter destroyed Cole’s relationship with his fiancee five years ago. On his birthday, Lena Solis (Alana de la Garza, ‘Law & Order’), the colleague he has been flirting with for a while now, asks Cole to come to a party. Tragically, this is the same day that Cole finds out that he has become immune to the sedatives, and that he can’t keep Price in check any longer.
When consulting his drug dealer, also known as the hospital’s pharmacologist, Dr. Malak (Mousa Kraish, ‘Fast & Furious’; role will be recast for episode 3 and onwards), it turns out that there is no higher dosage possible and that there are no alternatives. Cole runs as far away as he can, but Price takes over his life that night at 8:25 pm, for the first time in five years.
The next day, Cole finds out from Lena that Price has again ruined his relationship, this time before it even started. Price found a note with Lena’s number on it, called her, and asked her to come to a motel room. She arrived, and seeing that he trashed the place, got turned on. Coarsely, Price ripped her clothes off, and finally she got scared. Then, he did something unforgivable. No, he didn't rape her, he just stood there and laughed at her. Worst thing ever, right?
Irate, Jason Cole decides that it is time to lead Ian Price to believe he is no longer going to be sedated, in order to permanently get rid of his alter ego. Price, in the mean time, discovers a secret from the past that Cole doesn't even know about himself.
The two patients Cole treated during this episode were mainly there to show what a good Samaritan our doctor is. (Plus, they were needed to fill the full 42 minutes.) While they didn’t necessarily add anything else to the story, they didn’t annoy me as much as the patients did in, for instance, ‘The Mob Doctor’.
I think it is a shame that Cole is one-dimensionally good. It could really add to the show if he was more of an ends-justify-means type of person than the saint he now appears to be. Price, on the other hand is purely bad, but I have less of a problem with that since (for now) he really is the alter ego, and not the equally powerful and important inhabitant of the body.
To answer my question from before, the central conflict in ‘Do No Harm’ is exactly the same as in the old tale. The alterations to the story and the modern context in which the show is set, however, give that conflict a fresh look. But we’re not taking an English Literature class here, we are talking about a TV show. So is ‘Do No Harm’ worth watching? I think it is, at least for now. If the following episodes can make Cole a little less good and Price a little less bad, to make viewers really think about whom to root for, this could become a great show.
'Do No Harm' airs on Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC, starting January 31st.
What did you think of 'Do No Harm'?
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