TV Review: Coma


Genre: Sci-Fi | Action | Drama

Air Date/Time: Monday, September 3 at 9/8c and Tuesday, September 4 at 9/8c

Network: A&E

Based on the book by: Robin Cook

Written by: John J. McLaughlin

Directed by: Mikael Salomon

Summary:

An epic four-hour, two-night event from Ridley Scott and Tony Scott featuring a multiple Academy Award® and Emmy® Award-winning cast with Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Geena Davis, James Woods, Richard Dreyfuss and Ellen Burstyn. “COMA,” a modern day retelling of the bestselling novel by Robin Cook and based on the film by Michael Crichton, premieres on Labor Day, Monday, September 3rd and concludes on Tuesday, September 4th, airing at 9PM ET/PT on both nights.

COMA” also stars James Rebhorn (Law & Order, White Collar), Joe Morton (The Good Wife”), Michael Weston (House) and Joseph Mazello (The Pacific, The Social Network). Emmy Award winner Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers) directs the John J. McLaughlin (Black Swan) penned script.

From the team behind A&E’s Emmy-nominated miniseries The Andromeda Strain, and the hit drama series The Good Wife, COMA is a thriller about a medical student (Lauren Ambrose) who discovers that something sinister is going on in her hospital after routine procedures send more than a few seemingly healthy patients into comas on the operating table.

COMA is produced by Sony Pictures Television for A&E Network. Executive producers are Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, David W. Zucker, Martin Erlichman and Mikael Salomon.

Good one! Though not every plot twist in Coma is entirely unexpected, this 2-part, 4-hour miniseries offers an exceptional cast, a nice dose of suspense, and a sufficiently complex but not hard to follow mystery that unravels fairly evenly over the two consecutive nights. This is one of those shows – and really, which one isn’t – that greatly benefits from the 4-hour format.

The additional time allows multiple strings to develop without challenging us to keeping characters straight in our minds, and also allows for some depth. Not a lot of depth, but again, it’s just so much better with 4 hours to tell the tale.

And don’t worry; if you’re concerned about the level of action by the end of the first installment, be assured that there’s a lot more in the second. There’s also a bit of heavy-handed moralizing, but it’s completely tolerable and expected by the time you get there.

Lauren Ambrose, one of the best things about last summer’s unfortunate Torchwood: Miracle Day, is earnest but not over the top as a med school student with a notable pedigree, whose curiosity gets the better of her. Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me) starts out a little cliché but does warm up as we continue on.

But the big names are especially impressive even though we absolutely do not get enough time with them. Check it out: Joe Morton! Geena Davis! Ellen Burnstyn! James Woods! Richard Dreyfuss! All as secondary characters! They bring a completely appropriate stature to their roles, as they are all playing senior medical staff of one form or another, so it doesn’t feel like stunt casting at all.

It also takes actors of their stature to successfully pull off some of the more grandiose lines they’re given, and they do so with notable style. Still, more screen time, and maybe a wee bit better writing, would not have gone amiss.

We’re told that this production is a “modern day retelling” of the book by Robin Cook, and is based on the Michael Crichton film, but I don’t have any familiarity with either beyond a recognition of the name, so I can’t discuss any variations from either. I will say, however, that the effects are pretty cool. Gross, especially the second night, but cool. The sets are terrific, camera angles and direction help move things right along, and overall from a production viewpoint this miniseries is a class act.

It’s a little bumpy, a little uneven, and a wee bit campy, but overall this is a suspenseful two-parter that will nicely fill in your TV viewing time while you wait for the networks’ new season to slowly roll out.

I give Coma Four Out of Five Stars.

 

 


Erin Willard
Written by Erin Willard

Erin is the Editor In Chief and West Coast Correspondent for SciFiMafia.com

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