NBC sure loves its high-concept fantasy dramas. From superheroes to alien invasions to fairy tale monsters, the network will try anything to court nerdy genre fanboys. Last week, the big Peacock unveiled its latest attempt with the quasi-supernatural split personality thriller ‘Do No Harm’.
Steven Pasquale from ‘Rescue Me’ plays brilliant neurosurgeon Jason Cole. Did you catch that? He’s Dr. J. Cole. Because yes, exactly, he’s a massive jackhole.
Dr. J. Cole suffers from what he claims is Associative Identity Disorder (formerly called “multiple personality disorder” – you know, like ‘Sybil’). His condition is even more unusual than most, however. Every evening at precisely 8:25 PM, he blacks out and an evil alternate personality called Ian Price (I guess there was no good pun to be made from “Hyde”) takes over until 8:25 the next morning. His only control over this is to take an experimental sedative that knocks him out for precisely 12 hours, so that he and Ian sleep through the night safely. However, Ian has recently developed a tolerance for the drug and is ready to come out and play.
This seems like the kind of show that Garrity on ‘Rescue Me’ would think is a really cool idea, doesn’t it?
J. Cole claims that he’s had this disorder for as long as he can remember. This prompts all sorts of questions about how he ever got through medical school or a residency without anyone finding out. It would be kind of hard to work a 36-hour shift if you need to lock yourself away for at least a third of it.
Oh, but lots of people do know his secret, from the lab techie who mixes his drug cocktails, to his assistant (Samm “The Man” Levine), to his ex-wife (or ex-girlfriend; it’s not clear). His boss Phylicia Rashad clearly knows that something is up with him, but cuts him unreasonably enormous amounts of slack because he’s such a staggeringly brilliant surgeon.
In the ‘Pilot’ episode, Ian gets loose, and J. Cole wakes up the next morning in a trashed hotel room surrounded by half-naked ladies. He has to piece together what happened the previous night ‘Hangover’ style. In a kind of amusing running gag, every time this happens, J. Cole runs back to the hospital to get a full screening of lab work, including STD tests.
We don’t see a lot of Ian himself in the first episode, but from what we can gather, he’s sort of a frat boy jackass who likes to party, get laid, and make a mess of J. Cole’s life. Is this meant to be a metaphor for alcoholism or drug abuse? Real subtle, that.
J. Cole tries to use this predicament to his advantage by setting up Ian to be in the right place to take care of problems he needs solved, such as the abusive husband of one of his patients, who could really use a good beating. By the end of the episode, J. Cole calls a truce. He leaves a message for Ian explaining that he won’t attempt to suppress him anymore, so long as they agree to stay out of each other’s lives. Secretly, however, Dr. J. Cole intends to work to destroy Ian forever. What that might entail isn’t explained.
In a nutshell, the show is pretty dumb. It may not be the worst thing the network has aired in recent years, but it’s also not nearly as much fun as it thinks it is. I doubt this will be very popular or will make it through more than a half season.