Review – Saving Hope
Saving Hope – NBC – 9:00/8:00pm Thursday – USA / CTV – CA
These last few summers have seen the broadcast networks fill up their schedules with dodgy reality programming and Canadian drama imports of varying quality. There is the occasional gem that trickles down from the Great White North, like the outstanding The L.A. Complex which ended up on The CW, but most of the shows that get rebroadcast in the States are lame knock-offs that feel like off-brand versions of shows that already exist. Saving Hope is a knock-off of a knock-off of a copy of a US show that is as about as generic as these shows come, even the title is achingly bland.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one – a sexy and talented doctor helps people. Yes, Saving Hope is yet another medical drama that does only one thing to distinguish itself from the many other medical dramas out there that behave exactly like this one. While sexy, talented doctor lady Alex Reid (Erica Durance) goes about her business of barking instructions at nurses and saving people with a smile her husband-to-be, the sexy, talented doctor man Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks) lays in a coma. Occasionally Charlie has an out of body experience and gets to stand around the hospital watching, and narrating, the goings on.
The odd thing about Charlie is that he disappears from the show for long stretches of time so Saving Hope can get back to being an ordinary, boring, hospital drama. A talented surgeon lying in a coma, watching as his fiancé grieves for him and his colleagues’ debate whether to keep him alive; that seems like an interesting angle for a television drama to take. Saving Hope doesn’t really seem interested in this idea terribly much, nor is the show interested in the idea that in his disembodied state Charlie can see the souls of the recently departed as they roam the halls. There’s some kind of Ghost Whisperer-type show that could come out of this material but Charlie feels more like a distraction from the show rather than the point of it.
Saving Hope, which sounds like a show about a goalkeeper named Hope who has relationship issues, spends way too much time with its many patients who we’ve seen before. There’s the fat girl who doesn’t know she’s pregnant, who manages to go from having a sore stomach to having a baby to suddenly die in the space of forty minutes. There’s the Iraqi veteran who’s struggling with post-traumatic stress. There’s the quirky case about a girl who poisoned herself with a love potion. There’s also a man in a coma whose thoughts we can hear, but the show seems rather indifferent to that.
When these Canadian imports are at their worst is when they’re trying desperately to look like a US show whilst obviously not being a US show. Saving Hope is filled to the brim with completely unnecessary lens flairs – not a scene goes by without sunlight bouncing off of some surface into the camera. Part of it is to highlight the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ aspect of Charlie’s situation but it happens so often that you feel like you need to wear sunglasses if you want to keep watching. Adding to the off-brand vibe of the whole show is the way Saving Hope dresses its minor characters – there was a geeky girl in comically oversized glasses and a dopey new dad in a ridiculous trucker hat that distracted from every serious scene he was in – it was almost as if an out of touch producer had stood with the costume designer giving a speech about how ‘kids these days wear those trucker hats tilted back on their head… right?’.
Saving Hope doesn’t seem to be trying to be a great piece of entertainment, its aim seems to be ‘let’s get this sold in the States’ and so every rough edge is smoothed out and every interesting idea is tossed away. Somewhere in this bland blob is a sad show about a man in a coma, a man so used to being in control, who has to stand idly by as his fiancé makes the hardest decision of her life. That wouldn’t be a fun show but it would be more interesting than the show we’ve got in front of us; a show that gives the man in the coma nonsense narration to spew like “What if we did get to know our patients? What makes them happy or sad? Would it help us? Or them?” like he’s some kind of broken thought-of-the-day machine. Saving Hope is a boring, forgettable Canadian import that lives down to the standards set by all those other boring, forgettable Canadian imports.
Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?