Diagnosis: ‘Do No Harm’ Dead on Arrival

You may be familiar with the NBC series Do No Harm as the show that premiered to dismal ratings (the lowest in primetime history, in fact) and was mercilessly ridiculed through every form of social media imaginable. As I sat down to actually watch the pilot it was hard to force the negativity out of my mind and watch the show objectively, but I gave it my best effort and what I discovered was a show that maybe wasn’t deserving of such vehement hate. However, it was admittedly deeply flawed.

Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale) is a successful neurosurgeon who has spent the last five years keeping his evil alter-ego, Ian Price, dormant through self-medicating with a strong cocktail that puts him in a coma every night. Like volcanoes are apt to do, Ian eventually erupts and begins wreaking havoc on Cole’s life. I can appreciate a good Jekyll and Hyde story as much as the next person but what I can’t appreciate is a story that is basically implausible from the very beginning. The split personality is attributed to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which is a real medical condition.

As a man who deals specifically with the brain in his work, and is surrounded by other medical professionals who do the same, it seems quite odd that everyone is willing to ignore the dangers of someone with a disorder this out of control working in such a high-risk field. It seems even more unlikely that he would be able to hide it so easily throughout medical school, residencies, and now his job. Cole concocts a tale about having diabetes, which gives him the excuse for being in bed every night by 8:25 p.m. Considering that surgeons are normally on call 24/7, in itself is implausible.

Aside from a storyline that throws logic to the wind, you have a main character who is essentially uninteresting in both of his forms. Jason Cole is good and Ian Price is evil. A familiar pattern begins to emerge in the pilot. Had the series continued, we would have presumably spent the entire series watching Cole try to help the patient of the week and hold his life together, while waiting for Price to emerge and ruin it all.

Another downside is the lack of information on how Ian Price came to be a part of Jason Cole’s personality. There are tiny clues, which are thrown in almost as after thoughts. Although I realize its a pilot, and not everything is meant to be revealed, it may have been helpful to throw the audience some kind of bone and let us in on a little history behind the Cole/Price identity. Couple all of that with the expositional and sometimes painful dialogue and really, what are you left with? A show with an essentially unlikable character with almost no background or reason to be sympathetic toward his plight and a headache from trying to understand the misguided story.

Despite my belief that the show, while clearly bad, received an unnecessarily high amount of hate, it should come as no shock that the series didn’t survive past a second episode. With no truly compelling stakes at risk for the main character and lacking a sense of his background, its difficult to invest yourself in his story. Were this more faithful to the original Jekyll and Hyde tale we might be left with a compelling story about the morals of a man who is responsible for unleashing his own evil self. Instead, we’re left with a stark “good vs. evil” tale that doesn’t execute itself with any plausibility or finesse.

Posted on September 6, 2013, in Drama, Failed Pilots, NBC, Network Television, Primetime, Shows That Should Be Forgotten and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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