'Saving Hope' with Michael Shanks & Erica Durance Thrills in Pilot Episode

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Thursday night was the first episode of the new NBC medical drama, Saving Hope. The show is much more than a medical show, however. It deals with that in between state, when a patient is not conscious and yet has not died. Some might call it spiritual. That is the fate of Charlie Harris, Chief of Surgery at Toronto's Hope-Zion Hospital.

View attachment 1760 En route to his wedding with his fiance, Alex, who is a neurosurgeon, their taxi is rammed into by a car. At first, Charlie seems fine with a simple cut on his forehead. After saving the life of the female driver of the other vehicle, though, he suddenly collapses and is rushed to the hospital where just hours earlier he was giving a lecture, operating on a patient, and enjoying a pre-wedding tryst with Alex.

In the first 17 minutes of the show, we see how successful this couple is in their careers, as well as how much they love each other. That this accident happened on their way to getting married emphasizes the tragedy that can alter lives in a heartbeat. We also come to see Charlie watching himself. He is trying desperately to understand what is happening to him. The highlight line he speaks is, “I am having an out of body experience in a tuxedo.”

Michael Shanks, who is much beloved for his role as archaeologist and cultural expert, Dr. Daniel Jackson which he played for over a decade on Stargate SG-1, plays Charlie. It is a serious role that makes good use of Shanks' talent. Joining him on the journey is Erica Durance, who is best known as portraying Lois Lane on Smallville. She has a hefty challenge here as Alex, who has to walk that line of keeping faith and hope that Charlie will awake from his coma while also moving forward with her job at the hospital. She and Shanks have a definite chemistry, one that became a bit obvious in a few scenes they shared on Smallville when Shanks guest starred in a recurring role as Hawkman, leader of the Justice League.

There is a bit too much blood shown in some of the medical situations shown in the pilot, and that is probably going to continue, but it is nowhere near what some other, more gritty programs show.

The drama is huge and so intense sometimes. There is a difficult moment when Charlie is undergoing a craniotomy. Alex is there, watching as a drill begins to bore into Charlie's head. The spiritual Charlie, for lack of a better phrase, watches, too. He walks over to Alex and tenderly places his hand on her shoulder. She begins to breath heavily and suddenly bolts out of the operating room, leaving Charlie alone and confused about her swift exit.

The evolution of the characters promises to be an intriguing and emotional adventure that covers not just the struggle that Charlie and Alex face, but the very essence of their thoughts and personalities. At one point towards the end of this first hour, Charlie orates, "As surgeons, we can't second guess ourselves. At least, that's what I used to think."

It is a sign of transition, and Saving Hope is a show that is bound to have a lot changes in the weeks to come. Thanks to Shanks and Durance, the viewer experience will be pleasing and worth the journey, even when tears are shed as they were at the end of this first hour.

Be sure to tune into the second week of Saving Hope, next Thursday at 9 p.m.
 
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