NBC is describing this series as a new twist on a Jeckyl and Hyde story, but to me, Do No Harm is more reminiscent of the old Incredible Hulk TV series (and not in a good way, as I will explain).
Stephen Pasquale, who kept me entertained for seven years as the often befuddled Sean Garrity on Rescue Me, plays Dr. Jason Cole, a brilliant neurosurgeon, who also turns into Ian Price, an alternate personality who is also a dangerous sociopath. Dr. Cole has been able to keep Price under control for five years through drug therapy, but the effects of the drugs are starting to wear off, and now Cole is struggling with how to solve the problem that is Ian Price once and for all.
My big problem with the show is that I don’t buy the premise at all. The main thing I don’t buy is that Ian Price “comes out” each day, starting precisely at 9pm (right down to the second, as indicated by the watch Dr. Cole wears), and ending precisely at 7am the next day. Right. If he didn’t have a watch or if he lived on a deserted island, would he be able to set his watch by when he changes. Really?
The other thing that I don’t buy is that some of his colleagues know the truth, while others are completely in the dark. How he managed to find the one hospital on the planet where nobody gossips about staff (especially someone who routinely behaves so erratically), I don’t think anyone can explain.
Pasquale does a good job transitioning from the affable but beleaguered doctor to the deranged psycho, but when the whole premise seems so unbelievable, it’s hard to suspend my disbelief and go along with everything that happens on the show. A turning point for me in the pilot was when he made the switch from saintly doctor to violent madman, he turned to the camera, which zoomed in on his eye, just as we used to see happen to Bill Bixby in The (aforementioned) Incredible Hulk. That moment of unintentional campiness took me right out of the tension the viewer is supposed to feel at that moment (and the absurdity of what followed in the rest of the scene didn’t help, either, where he beat up a stronger, tougher guy, who was left whimpering on the ground).
Do No Harm has more going against it than just the show itself. It’s got a brutal timeslot (Sundays at 10pm as soon as NBC’s football season is over). It’s on against the new 666 Park Avenue (which sounds like a more appealing show) and The Mentalist, which has a built-in audience, after four seasons on the air. And it will follow The Apprentice, which has a history of bleeding viewers for whichever show follows it. For all of these reasons, I don’t see this series attracting much of an audience out of the gate, or building one over the season.
TV Gord’s verdict: Watch It While You Can (cancelled early on).