Saving Hope should have been my favorite show of the summer. I’d been looking forward to it ever since I’d heard that Erica Durance had signed on for the lead role. She was my favorite actress on Smallville and I was so excited that she’d booked a pilot so quickly. When Daniel Gillies, one of my favorites from The Vampire Diaries, was cast as well, I was more than sold for must-see-TV on Thursday nights again. The pilot was great. I was hooked from the opening scene and I couldn’t wait to see the rest of the season.
The next two episodes were great, but then, it was all downhill from there. The show turned into a huge mess and as much as I liked the actors, it became a chore to tune in each week. The characters changed personalities from week to week, the supporting characters served little purpose, the hospital cases were boring, and even worse, talented actors were being wasted on bad writing. There were a few sparks here and there where the show came alive again and made me hopeful (no pun intended) that the show might revert back to being good, but it was never enough to actually make me like the show.
Overall, I’m giving the show a very generous C- for its first season and if I’m being honest, it’s more deserving of a D, but I love the actors too much to rate it that low. Check out the lists below for more specifics on what the show did well (very little) and all the reasons it failed to live up to its potential.
- Erica Durance, Daniel Gillies and Michael Shanks: All three actors are incredibly talented and they did a lot with the material they had. Even if the episode was boring me to tears, if Alex started crying, I was going to tear up too because Durance is that good. Gillies had a challenging job since Joel changed personalities each week (see the Worst section), but he always managed to hit the right notes with the character, even if he did change his accent from week to week (the Elijah accent was always my favorite because it allowed me to think about TVD and remember good shows exist). Charlie was all over the place as a character too, but Shanks brought his A-game, especially when he was sharing scenes with Durance. Their chemistry was powerful and engaging (and wasted).
- Charlie’s speeches: During the first few episodes, each one ended with a voiceover from Charlie. He would basically sum up what lessons could be learned from whatever major things had happened in the episode. The speeches were inspirational and emotional and so perfect that I used to quote them word for word in my recaps. But they stopped doing those after five or six episodes and then I was sad.
- Inconsistency: There are probably too many examples to list so I’m going to go with the major ones. In the pilot, Joel was an egotistical womanizer. A few weeks later, he was soulful and wasn’t sure about getting into a no-strings relationship with Maggie. At some point, he was still in love with Alex. The writing didn’t support any of this. Was he the bad boy with a heart of gold or just a misunderstood nice guy? Then, there’s Charlie. The entire time he was in his coma, he wanted to get back to Alex. He woke up and then he decided to shut Alex out and leave her waiting at the altar? Why?
- Supporting characters: Aside from Maggie (who was just the worst) and Gavin (who was awesome, but underused), I barely knew difference between which characters were regulars and which ones were the guest stars. I complained week after week about having to go to IMDB to look up a character name because the show never told us who the people were or anything about them. They were just there. What’s the point of having a fairly large cast if the show isn’t going to bother using any of them?
- The patients/cases: There were usually two or three cases going on in each episode; one that Alex was handling, one that Joel was handling and one patient was in the other realm with Charlie. There were a few interesting cases over the season, but for the most part, the actual medical stuff was either boring or over the top gory and served little or no purpose. Half the time, the show didn’t even give us the patient’s name. It’s fine if the writers wanted to focus on the characters instead, but then they shouldn’t have wasted so much time. It’s not really fun to try and guess who’s behind the surgical mask while the actors mutter into them, using big words the audience doesn’t understand.
- The flashbacks: In the beginning, there was a flashback in each episode that gave viewers a glimpse into Charlie and Alex’s relationship before the coma. These were nice and usually tied in to what was going on in the present. But those disappeared as well or they became solely about Charlie and his childhood memories (more on that in #5) and didn’t really seem relevant to anything that was going on. Also, if the writers wanted us to believe that Joel was pining for Alex and Alex was confused (she didn’t seem confused when she slapped him and wiped her mouth after he kissed her), they should have given us some flashbacks to their relationship instead of just telling us that it was terrible.
- Charlie’s childhood trauma: Again, no disrespect to Shanks because he did a wonderful job with the emotional scenes, but where exactly did this storyline come from? All of a sudden Charlie has all these issues and now it’s affecting his relationship with Alex. Are we really supposed to believe because he was in the same car accident that killed his parents that he didn’t want to wake up and when he did wake up, he didn’t want to be with Alex anymore? Or was there another purpose to the flashbacks? I have no idea and it feels like the writers don’t either.
I’m going to stop there because reliving this has made me angry all over again that the show wasted so much potential. Saving Hope has been picked up for another season in Canada, but it doesn’t seem likely that it will air simultaneously in the U.S. again unless another network wants to step up and make a deal. Even if they do, I don’t think I’ll be watching the second season. I’ll just have to turn to my Smallville DVDs and wait for Elijah to return to Mystic Falls if I want to get my Durance and Gillies fix.
Did you enjoy the first season of Saving Hope or were you as disappointed and frustrated as I was? What grade would you give the season? Hit the comment section below and tell us what you thought!