A medical drama with a supernatural twist, Saving Hope is a compelling hour of television.
And if nothing else Daniel Gillies is back on my screen, which is enough reason to watch if there was ever a reason to watch. (Even if he's not playing the calculating, family-centered member of the undead like his character on The Vampire Diaries.)
The Pilot begins with a car crash as Dr. Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks) and his fiance' Dr. Alex Reid (Erica Durance) are on the way to their wedding. After saving the woman who caused the crash, Charlie falls unconscious and is in a coma. From his coma he can see and hear everything that happens at the hospital, including the patients who are dead and dying. Through them, he learns that there's more to life and being a doctor than he previously thought.
It's this supernatural element that sets Saving Hope apart from its hospital-drama predecessors.
As an in-betweener, Charlie watches the interactions of his fiance' and colleagues and comments on the roles of doctors in the lives of patients, specifically his role as a surgeon. This is the "Greek Chorus" that Daniel Gillies spoke of in his recent interview with TV Fanatic.
Gillies' character, Dr. Joel Goran, is new to Hope Zion Hospital having taken a paycut to practice there as an orthopedic surgeon and is Charlie's foil. He and Dr. Reid have a romantic past and while he's apparently a womanizer and all-around not nice guy, he doesn't seem like it. (Maybe it's the hair. Or the hint of an accent.) He and Charlie are also quite different in their approaches to surgical medicine.
Charlie is certain, swift and precise. He's methodical and he'll choose the sure outcome over the risk. Goran, on the other hand, is more conservative in his approach, choosing to understand why patients make the decisions they make. They seem so different, in fact, that I have a hard time picturing Goran as the jerk he's supposed to be.
Nothing about him implies that he's anything but a nice guy. None of this is to say that Charlie isn't a nice guy who is hopelessly in love with his fiance' or is the stereotypical surgeon certain he can cure the world's ills with a scalpel, but Charlie's monologues indicate that there's a bit of this tendency trapped inside his coma-stricken body. (To read some of Charlie's musings, check out the Saving Hope quotes page.)
Their differences are shown in their approach to a patient who has a tumor that requires surgery. Charlie is prepared to amputate the man's arm and has convinced the patient that this is the best course of action. When he ends up in his coma, Goran takes over his patients and can't amputate the man's arm opting instead to remove the tumor. In the end, the patient seems appreciative that he still has his limb, despite promising to sue Goran. Charlie muses that this must be what it's like when doctors take the time to get to know their patients.
Charlie's ghost-like interactions with Alex are, for lack of a better word, haunting. Whenever he reaches out to her, she panics. When she tries to reach out to him, she panics then, too. Alex seems comfortable in her role as doctor, but very unsteady without Charlie as a grounding force in her personal life. In fact, she's so grounded in her professional life that she's ready to give up hope on Charlie making a recovery because she realizes, as a doctor, that his chances of survival are slim.
She loses a patient and helps a father connect with his premature son but breaks down when she realizes she may lose the connection she has with Charlie. She's very compartmentalized which makes her emotional moments that much stronger and more human.
In addition to Charlie, Alex, and Goran, there's also the rag-tag bunch of residents and other doctors to fill out the staff, one of whom reminds me of a young John Carter, except female. Maggie Lin (Julia Taylor Ross) seems so eager for Alex's approval, paging her with every question she has as she starts her surgical residency, not unlike Carter to Dr. Benton early in ER's run. She's uncertain of herself but admiring of her superiors. She wants to do well and please but lacks confidence in her abilities.
Saving Hope isn't perfect. There are things that I don't understand, among them is why Alex is continually paged on a pregnant patient's case after they transfer the girl to the proper floor. I also don't see Joel Goran as the womanizing, cocky, can-do-no-wrong surgeon he's supposed to be while Charlie's monologues tend to paint him as someone who is faithful to his fiance' but very much thinks surgeons are gods among doctors.
However, there's always something about a hospital that provides an excellent backdrop for television dramas. Maybe it's the revolving door of patients with problems and watching the way the doctors interact with and have their lives affected by those patients. Maybe it's that medical situations in general can sometimes be high drama themselves. Maybe it's that once upon a time I thought I wanted to be a doctor before I realized 1) I really hate needles and 2) well, I really hate needles. No matter the reason, this is a show I'll be watching.
What did you think of the Saving Hope pilot?
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.