[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show: "Do No Harm" (NBC) [MIDSEASON]
The Pitch: "Remember how 'My Own Worst Enemy' failed even though it starred Christian Slater and Taylor Lautner? Maybe what it needed was... ummm... that guy from 'Rescue Me.' And to be more serious and crazy and less fun and confusing?"
Quick Response: I don't know what "Do No Harm" feels like, but it doesn't feel like an NBC drama. Maybe it belongs on FX? Or Syfy? No clue. Anyway, this is NBC's latest attempt to tap into the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" mythos, with "Rescue Me" co-star Steven Pasquale playing a charming neurosurgeon who loses control and becomes a demented sociopath at night. How? Why? Huh? David Schulner's pilot script is mostly invested in tying things up in confusing knots and planting dozens of perplexing mysteries and not especially invested in maintaining anything other than rudimentary internal logic or cohesion. It's a theme this midseason, when the networks are unveiling three or four audaciously weird, wacky and possibly terrible (but possibly terribly addictive) new dramas. I was completely involved in "Do No Harm," but much of that involvement involved writing "What the [fudge]?!?" in my notes every time something happened that I didn't understand or wasn't supposed to understand. And again, that's not an "I'm shocked!" kinda "What the [fudge]?!?" it's a "Wha' Happen?!?" thing. Bafflement is an acceptable response to a pilot -- I have no doubt there'll be people who just love how little of "Do No Harm" is spelled out, as if merely being murky were a sign of implied genius -- but it helps if you have confidence that there's a sure hand behind-the-scenes steering things in one specific direction. "Do No Harm" felt more chaotic and less structured and that left me less-than-pleased. Pasquale is the big x-factor in a show like this and he's taking an interesting approach that somewhat minimizes the distinctions between the doctor and his alter-ego (compared to the strict, rudimentary, contrast Christian Slater created in "My Own Worst Enemy"). Based on the pilot (and past work), I really can't tell if Pasquale is an interesting enough actor for this blurred Jekyll/Hyde. James Nesbitt, for example, delivered a masterclass in almost imperceptible delineation in "Jekyll," but Pasquale's not doing that yet. There's an odd sparseness to the supporting cast, which is almost entirely relative unknowns ... and then Phylicia Rashad. That also leads to the feeling that "Do No Harm" should be on cable or possibly Canadian TV. I watch a lot of TV. I know a lot of actors. So having a cast that's this devoid of familiar character actors or up-and-coming supporting players is... odd. Anyway... There's some strange Oliver Sacks-style stuff that may or may not attempt to ground this story in some kind of realism, but in a TV era in which we're accustomed to Dexter simultaneously being/balance both Jekyll and Hyde is the bifurcation actually all that interesting anymore? On a trivial side note, "Do No Harm" has the goofiest last line in TV pilot history. You may not notice its bizarreness if you've tuned out by then, but it's a classic.
Desire To Watch Again: I had so many questions at the end of the "Do No Harm" pilot that I want to watch a couple more episodes. I also think a couple more episodes would let me make a conclusive determination on whether Pasquale's subtly is a good choice or a damning choice. But this isn't an "I'm excited to see more," kinda thing. It's a "How long can they keep up this pace of vagueness and point-circling?" kinda thing. Like I said, there are a couple midseason dramas that I feel similarly towards and I'll get to those in the weeks to come.
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries