Spring 2013 Review: Do No Harm

15 Mar

Do No Harm

Do No Harm has already been way cancelled after just two episodes, drawing the worst premiere rating ever for a network drama (some jokester got away with adding to the wikipedia page for Do No Harm, ” (yes, worse than The Mob Doctor!)” to demonstrate how low the ratings were).  Still, we review on, for posterity’s sake, if for nothing else.  Plus, a lot of people worked hard to get this show to air.  The least we can do is reward their effort by watching one episode.

Dual personalities, which are at the core of Do No Harm, have been a handy subject matter for recent failed dramas.  A few years ago, the Christian Slater vehicle My Own Worst Enemy, in which he played a spy who had a chip in his brain which turned him into an innocent who acted as the perfect cover, aired.  Kyle Killen’s well-liked Lone Star was also cancelled after just two episodes, and featured a man living a double life (though by his own choice).  This seems to be something of an obsession for Killen, whose other failed drama, which aired last year, Awake, featured a man who also lived between two different realities – he was always the same, but everything around him was different.

Do No Harm lead character Dr. Jason Cole is a top neurosurgeon who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personality disorder.  From 8:25 AM to 8:25 PM every day he’s charming and responsible Dr. Cole, helping patients, taking risks that some members of the hospital brass would rather he not, and charming his colleague Lena Solids (former Law & Order ADA Alana de la Garza), who wants to take their friendly relationship to the next level.  By night however, he’s the sociopathic Ian Price, who lives to wreck Cole’s life, and to take advantage of his money for booze, drugs, women, and whatever else he can find to blow it on (maybe blow?).

For five years, Cole has successfully knocked himself out for 12 hours a day, with the help of an employee at the hospital acting against all policy, supplying him with a special drug.  From 8:25 at night until the morning Cole would simply be unconscious.  Somehow no one at the hospital has ever had occasion to notice that he was available at all during those hours.  However, the drug’s effects have worn off and now Cole is faced with the terrifying reality that his evil twin is back in his life.

Do No Harm is surprisingly uninteresting for a show about a man terrified by his other personality trying to ruin his life and destroy everything he loves.  I just don’t really care what happens.  Cole seems so blandly good, and his other half so viciously evil.  During the episode we basically get the idea that Cole is a pretty amazing dude whose only issue is, well, the big one, of his split personality, but he doesn’t really seem like an interesting guy.I get the whole dichotomy but perhaps some traces of subtlety would go a long way towards making the concept work; if both versions of him were a little more complicated.

In fact the only reason to root for the show is that it gives Samm Levine, who played Neil in Freaks and Geeks, a job.  Levine to this point has been just about the least successful of a phenomenally successful cast, so he could use the work.

Will I watch it again?  No.  Not that there’s all that much to watch even if I wanted to, but there’s not much here other than the hook.  It’s not a bad idea for a hook, but shows that are just about the hook and don’t have strong characters and writing are limited at best.  Again, it’s worth noting for a second that this is another show that is by no means truly wretched, but there’s no reason anyone should waste even half a tear on Do No Harm’s quick cancellation.

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