‘Saving Hope’ Pilot Recap: “Wake Up, You Dumb Bastard”

Here we are, officially at the start of the summer TV season. This is the time of year when cable networks start to dominate the schedule with original programming, while the major broadcast networks dump a lot of reruns and Reality crap on us, interspersed with the occasional Canadian pick-up series. This past Thursday, NBC premiered the new supernaturally-tinged medical drama ‘Saving Hope’, which originated and airs simultaneously on CTV in Canada. Unfortunately, even with the lower ratings standards and reduced expectations of the summer season (and of NBC in general), I doubt this stands a ghost of a chance of sticking around for long.

Conceptually, the series actually fits in pretty well with NBC’s regular-season programming. The network still seems determined to court a genre audience (to mixed success) with shows like ‘The Event’ (aliens), ‘Awake’ (alternate realities) and ‘Grimm’ (supernatural monsters). This one’s about ghosts – sort of.

We meet hotshot surgeons Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks from ‘Stargate SG-1’) and Alex Reid (Erica Durance from ‘Smallville’) on their wedding night. En route to the chapel, their taxi is struck by another car. The accident leaves Charlie in a coma – except that, a few minutes later, he has an out-of-body experience and winds up hanging around and observing his fiancée and friends at the hospital as they take care of him.

The ‘Pilot’ episode then flashes back a day and reintroduces all of the characters and the setting at Hope Zion hospital. This flashback lasts an awkwardly long time before returning to the present day after the accident.

Aside from the supernatural element, the show is basically a poor man’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ knockoff, filled with lots of soap opera storylines about the doctors’ sex lives and their medical cases of the week. (An Afghanistan vet with PTSD is way too anxious to have his arm amputated, and an obese girl has an “I didn’t know I was pregnant!” revelation.) After the accident, Reid goes back to work way too soon. Her ex-boyfriend turns up as the new surgeon to replace Charlie, so naturally there’s going to be some romantic tension there. All the while, Charlie walks the halls of the hospital, commenting on the action and occasionally talking to dead people.

The show isn’t very good. The production values are pretty low, and whoever directed the episode has a really annoying obsession with lens flares. Seriously, even if you didn’t mind the lens flares in the last ‘Star Trek’ movie, the effect is completely out of control here. Lights point directly into the camera lens in every single shot, indoors or out, daytime or night, for no reason at all. Even Mrs. Z commented on it, and she never notices stuff like that.

The show looks cheap, the storylines aren’t very interesting, and the writing is poor. There’s nothing here worth watching. One episode was enough for me. I’m done with it, and I don’t expect the series to last the whole summer.

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