In the interest of full disclosure, I had high expectations for the pilot of Saving Hope, which premiered tonight on NBC, since it stars two of my favorite people, Erica Durance (Smallville) and Daniel Gillies (The Vampire Diaries). I am happy to say that the show did not disappoint. It’s fast-paced, the medical cases are interesting, the character dynamics are intriguing and all of the actors brought their A-game.
The pilot begins with Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks) and Alex Reid (Durance) in the back of a cab on the way to their wedding. They’re dressed up and excited and adorably flirting when suddenly the cab is struck by another car. Charlie has a cut on his forehead, but they both spring into action. Alex helps the cab driver while Charlie checks on the woman in the other car. She has a collapsed lung and Charlie calls for Alex to bring him her purse. He uses a tampon applicator to puncture her skin and fix it. (It was totally gross and awesome at the same time). Charlie and Alex are relieved and talking about how they just want to go get married when all of a sudden, Charlie collapses.
He’s taken by ambulance to the hospital and as he’s wheeled in, Alex announces that he’s been unconscious for 37 minutes. Charlie is sort of shocked by that since he’d been watching the whole thing, completely aware of his surroundings. But then he realized he was doing it from outside his body or as Charlie put it, “I’m having an out-of-body experience in a tux.” As Alex and the other doctors rushed to help him, Charlie watched them and slowly started to come to grips with what was happening. He had a great line in his voiceover. “This is how it happens. You belong to the hospital now and all you can do is hope.”
Next, we go back to 12 hours earlier at the hospital. Charlie is the chief of surgery and he’s presenting a case to the surgeons of a man who has tumors in his arm and asking the doctors what the treatment would be. (I’m guessing it’s supposed to be a teaching hospital like Grey’s Anatomy or Scrubs. Either way, most of the medical jargon went over my head. I went to art school, thank you very much). The real purpose of the scene was to show Charlie and Alex having a stimulating medical conversation which one of the other surgeons referred to as foreplay. That turned out to be true because the scene flipped and they were getting busy in his office until Alex got paged.
Charlie talks with the patient who is having his arm amputated and the surgery needs to be put off until the next day. As Alex goes to answer her page, we meet Dr. Joel Goran (Gillies), who literally comes riding in on a gurney with his hand in someone’s chest. But he manages to give Alex a smile and as he goes by. Later, the two talk outside the operating room and Alex mentions that she thought he was coming the next day. Joel tells her that he came early to hang pictures and he makes a comment that since she didn’t invite him to the wedding, she was obviously still in love with him. Alex is not impressed and says she likes to remember the poems he wrote, the breakfast in bed and the nurses he was banging. Ouch. Then she tells him when and where the wedding is and that he should come if he has time, making it clear that she’s over it. (Sorry, not buying it. You don’t get over someone that hot).
We go back to the present and the doctors are running tests on Charlie. As he watches from the sidelines, his voiceover explains that doctors like tests; it’s the unknown that scares them. Charlie says that he would do the same thing to see what was going on his brain, but in his mind, all he wants to do is hold Alex and tell her that everything will be okay. (Aw). Alex is in the waiting room quietly falling apart and one of the other doctors suggests that she go back to work since the neurosurgeon, Dr. Shahir Hamza (Huse Madhavji) is not ready to operate on Charlie yet.
Dr. Maggie Lin (Julia Taylor Ross) is waiting for Alex and she has a young female patient who is complaining of stomach pains. The girl’s boyfriend is with her and Alex is not really in the mood for Maggie’s apparent need to have her hand held. It doesn’t take long for Alex to deduce that the girl is actually pregnant and she sends the boyfriend away to question her. She admits that she knew but she was afraid and Alex says they’ll send an OB-GYN to examine her. But she goes into labor not long after that and Alex delivers the baby with some help from Maggie. (He’s so little)! The patient and her boyfriend are sort of in shock.
Joel introduces himself to the patient waiting to have his arm removed. The patient isn’t thrilled with the doctor switch, but Joel tells him that he doesn’t have a choice in the matter. Later, Joel finds him outside and admits that he googled him and found out that he’d served in Afghanistan and studied to be an engineer. Joel thinks he’s suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder and that he might not be in the right frame of mind to make the decision to cut off his arm when there are other options. He suggests it’s survivor’s guilt. The patient does not want to hear it and orders Joel to perform the surgery. Joel sets up a psych consult instead.
The girl who just had a baby and her boyfriend are talking about what’s next for them when her monitors start beeping. Alex rushes to answer the code blue, but it’s too late. She explains to the boyfriend that she had a pulmonary embolism and there were massive blood clots in her lungs so there was nothing they could do. She tells him that he needs to think about what he wants to do about their son. He’s not interested in having anything to do with the baby because the baby killed his girlfriend. Ouch.
Later, Alex is in Charlie’s room, canceling their hotel reservations when he codes. Alex wants to help, but Joel pushes her out of the way and he gets the paddles. He shocks him once and it does nothing and as he goes to do it again, Alex screams for Charlie and this time it works. Joel says they have to reduce the pressure from his brain or he’s going to die. Dr. Hamza is drilling a hole in Charlie’s skull. Alex tries to sit through it, but she ends up running out of the room. (I can’t really blame her. Can you imagine sitting there watching someone drill a hole in your fiancé’s head? No thank you).
Alex is approached by a paramedic who found the ring Charlie had planned to give her in the ambulance. Alex is sitting in the office staring at it when Joel comes in and wants to talk about the patient who is supposed to get his arm cut off. He asks how Alex is doing and she’s freaking out because she doesn’t know what to do if Charlie codes again and if she should let him go. Joel tells her that he’s not going to die and she says he is and Joel points out that she doesn’t know that. He starts to tell her why he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to cut off the arm and Alex yells at him and tells him to do it because that’s what Charlie was going to do and when he points out that he’s not Charlie, she tells him that he’ll never be half the surgeon Charlie is. Joel is obviously hurt (rightfully so, it was harsh) and tells her he was trying to be nice. She responds that he’s a lot of things, but he’s not nice.
Joel leaves and runs into the psychiatrist, Dr. Gavin Murphy (Kristopher Turner), who confirms the PTSD diagnosis and tells Joel that the patient should definitely not be making the decision to cut off his arm. Joel says that’s too bad because he’s doing it. As he’s standing in the operating room, Charlie is watching and in his voiceover states that surgeons can’t second guess themselves…at least that’s what he used to think. Joel decides against doing the surgery and he tells the patient he was only doing it because Charlie was going to and maybe that’s his guilt talking. The patient threatens to sue him and Joel tells him that he will probably win. (Seriously, Daniel Gillies should be on every show ever. He’s the best).
The father of the baby has a change of heart and Alex is there to support him. She goes into Charlie’s room again and starts to get onto the bed with him, but then she panics and backs off. She sends the nurse away and then she tells Charlie that she had a bad day and she lost a patient and it’s the kind of thing she’d normally talk to him about. She tries again and manages to get on the bed and hug him and then she asks what she’s going to do without him. She’s crying and it’s heartbreaking. (When Erica Durance cries, I want to cry too). Charlie is watching from beside the bed and tells her not to give up on him and that he’s still there.
The first episode was powerful, emotional and the acting was phenomenal. Since I haven’t yet, I need to praise Michael Shanks for being fantastic as well. He manages to inject a little humor into Charlie which is great considering he’s in a terrible position. In the previews for next week’s episode, it looked like there was a chance Charlie might be able to communicate with the living (non-coma?) world through another patient. I’m curious to see how that plays out and I’m definitely looking forward to more interaction between all the characters, both in the present time and in the flashbacks.
What did you think of the pilot of Saving Hope? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.