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If You Gamble on 'Chance,' You Just Might Win
October 19, 2016  | By David Hinckley
 

Considering what a mess Dr. Gregory House became on Hugh Laurie’s last TV series, it’s hard to believe that in his new one, the situation looks even worse.

Yet it does.

In Chance, a new Hulu drama that will be released Wednesday, Laurie (top) plays Dr. Eldon Chance, a San Francisco neuropsychiatrist who lets desperation lead him into several very bad decisions.

For the record, he’s desperate over money and a woman. The usual things.

What really should be depressing him, many viewers might argue, would be his practice, which involves evaluating people who are almost all, in his phrase, “damaged beyond repair.”

They include, for instance, a woman who was riding in a car with her father when they had an accident and she watched him get decapitated. Others suffered terrible abuse as children.

They generally suffer from some sort of PTSD, which is helpful as a diagnostic umbrella and doesn’t point very well toward treatment.

Chance doesn’t treat these folks anyway. He evaluates them and refers them to therapists or support groups or other services, most of which do not help. In the end, says Chance, all anyone can do in most cases is hold their hands.

It’s relentlessly depressing work, which may be why it seems to pay relatively well. But even that consolation has evaporated since Chance is wrapping up an expensive divorce from his wife Christina (Diane Farr).

Facing home sale issues, legal costs, and tax complications, Chance decides to sell some antique furniture he bought in better times. In the process, he discovers it will bring a much prettier penny if he adds some fake metal trim that looks original.  

The replica man is named D (Ethan Suplee), and he’s about equal parts creepy and menacing. That’s not a theoretical observation. He matter-of-factly tells Chance he lives for confrontations.  

He’s a gift to Chance and also to viewers because he’s the kind of character for whose next scene you can’t wait.

Better yet, he’s matched in fascination by Jaclyn Blackstone (Gretchen Mol, left), a troubled woman with whom Chance gets a little too involved.

She has been sent to him for evaluation, which he duly carries out. Seems she was a fairly normal person until her detective husband Raymond (Paul Adelstein) knocked her unconscious. When she woke up, she had both a headache and a second personality – Jackie Black – who kept going back to Raymond even though Jaclyn wanted to leave him.

Several months after the evaluation session, Chance runs into her, seemingly by happenstance, at a favorite local bookstore. Then the psychiatrist to whom he referred her tells him Jaclyn is back in the hospital after being punched in the face.

Chance goes to visit her and meets Raymond, who is pretty menacing and creepy himself. Soon thereafter Jaclyn comes to Chance’s office, and they talk over coffee. Jaclyn says Raymond will eventually kill her.

Later, after a few drinks, Chance blurts out some of this story to D, and you can imagine where things might start to go next.

Suffice it to say Chance begins moving in different circles, and not ones he always seems gratified to have joined.

Don’t expect things to be resolved quickly, either. Hulu gave Chance an order for two series of 10 episodes each, which leaves plenty of room for dark, sordid doings.

Beyond the fine work of Mol and Suplee, Laurie proves his versatility again by deftly handling a character quite different from Gregory House or Richard Roper of The Night Manager.  

Hulu is doubtless hoping Laurie will help raise the service’s profile in the increasingly competitive streaming game. As TV bets go, it’s a solid one.

 
 
 
 
 
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