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Good Doc, Bad Doc: NBC's 'Do No Harm' Revs Up Jekyll and Hyde
January 29, 2013  | By Eric Gould  | 1 comment
 

Dr. Jason Cole is at war with himself. Literally.

By day, the Philadelphia neurosurgeon is the best in his field and a compassionate, caring doctor. But, like the rest of us, he’s got a side of himself he's not particularly fond of. He's a shut-in at night, unable to even go see his beloved Phillies when he's given free tickets by a friend: "I just can't enjoy the night games. I'm just not myself."

Is that ever an understatement. Every night at 8:25 p.m. he becomes a walking nightmare called Ian Price who happenes to be everything the good Doc is not — criminal, misogynist and general all-around sociopath. The process then reverses itself the next morning, precisely 12 hours later at 8:25 a.m.

Talk about the physician who needs to heal first. Jason (Steven Pasquale, right) is in a support group for people afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder, or multiple personalities. But he's also learned from lab tests that when Ian comes around, he's biochemically a different person, so the problem might not jut be psychological.

Whatever the cause, Do No Harm is the newest spin on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. The series brings it fast forward and amps it up in some inventive, often hilarious ways. It premieres Thursday night on NBC, January 31, at 10 p.m. ET.

Jason has kept Ian under control for the past five years by sedating himself every night, in a twist that uses meds to quell the monster instead of conjuring him. But he’s built up a tolerance to that treatment, and now Ian's out again (and out for payback) undoing Jason in all sorts of ways. Jason recovers one morning in a designer suit, driving a Ferrari that isn't his, with a sex doll and a Golden Retriever in the passenger seat next to him. In mulitple raids on Jason's checkbook, Ian's also gone out and rented him a yacht for the summer.

For the first two episodes, the transitions between Jason and Ian present some of the better parts of Do No Harm, which is very much a writer's menagerie. They both put each other in impossible situations, each awaking into the others world Quantum Leap-style and generally into a tight spot that requires quick thinking. Jason wants to avert Ian's plans of mayhem and crime, and Ian's out to ruin Jason personally and financially. That set-up gives the writers endless ways of staging the conflict and keeping the war between Jason and Ian fresh. They begin to leave increasingly hostile video messages for each other on their shared mobile phone.

Pasquale (Up All Night, Rescue Me) is quite nimble and fun to watch, particularly when he's going from the vanilla Doc to his maniacal alter ego. His ever-so-slightly pronounced incisors give him the faintest of feral appearances, and that helps us buy into the change, as does some nice tongue-in-cheek musical direction. For instance, in one scene we see Ian marching down the halls to the sound of The Black Keys "Lonely Boy." In another, Ian shows up in the ER, with scalpel in hand, posing as Jason as The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" plays. Ian raises the scalpel and blurts out, "Let's have some fun!"

Alana De La Garza (Law & Order) is also along as Dr. Lena Solis, Dr. Cole's emerging love interest. But she meets Ian (who she thinks is Jason) a couple of times, and needless to say, it goes poorly. Jason has to talk his way out of some really ugly behavior displayed by Ian to keep her willing to work with the daytime nice guy.

As witty and inventive as some of Do No Harm is, it does suffer from a rehash of standard writer’s room tropes. There's a suspicious, rival doctor (Michael Esper) lurking about trying to uncover Jason's secret, and also a crabby veteran Chief of Surgery (Phylicia Rashad) who's around, it seems, just to say no to all the over-budget, do-good life-saving Cole and Solis want to do.

On the horror side, the show seems to want to go to some of the true terror that American Horror Story does, (and it briefly gets there) but mostly it feels as though it has been watered down to appeal to a larger audience.

Despite these hadicaps, Do No Harm does have some heart going for it, trotting out Freudian conflicts, illustrating how we feel we have to hide who we are and how we shy away from the boldness we think we really want.

We'll see glimpses of Jason and Ian being forced to find ways to accommodate one another to coexist — the nice guy has to learn to be a little more assertive and edgier to get the things he wants in life, and Ian has to find a way to just take it down a notch or two.

As Jason's support group leader Will (John Carroll Lynch) lectures him on one visit, "Why do you keep insisting that you and Ian are different?... You and Ian are part of the whole. You need to work together if you're ever going to peacefully coexist. When you embrace the Ian in you, you will know how to fix this."

Until he does, it seems the mad man, and the series, will run amok for a while. And that's half the fun... the misbehaving half, of course.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
When this series concludes, I'll be looking to see whether you feel you have learned anything as a result of watching the show.
Feb 4, 2013   |  Reply
 
 
 
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