Thursday, January 17, 2013

Do No Harm

There should be a holiday - celebrated only in Hollywood - to commemorate the day Dissociative Identity Disorder was discovered. Actual cases of this disease are incredibly rare in the real world, but in the world of entertainment there is a virtual epidemic of it.

I’m not complaining - a schism in the personality makes for not only a totally engrossing story, it pits man against his greatest enemy: himself. Besides, it’s rife with metaphor. What is the self? How much are we in control of our lives? Are we all really many, many people contained in this figment we call “the psyche.” I’m frothing at the mouth just writing about it.

So, given the limitless potential stored in just the concept of Do No Harm, how does it hold up in execution? I’d say not bad. The story revolves around a highly skilled neurosurgeon with a heart of gold who happens to have a sadistic alter ego who emerges at 8:25 PM every night and leaves at 8:25 a.m. every morning. Do I believe this is a real psychological disorder? No. Do I believe he works at a real hospital? No. Do I believe assaulting someone is a reasonable way to solve the problem of domestic abuse? No. But, do I believe that Steven Pasquale is both a kind-hearted surgeon and a truly sinister villain? Absolutely.

There are some serious problems in this pilot, mostly in the lackluster disease-of-the-week fodder, but what does work here is what’s crucial for a show like this. There is a battle, a devious chess match, between a man and himself. And boy, are the stakes high. I feel like there is a good chance that our lovable life-saver’s alter ego could totally murder a child. Watching this man battle with his shadow while trying to cling to his shattered identity is truly riveting.

Article first published as TV Review: Do No Harm - "Pilot" on Blogcritics.

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