Do No Harm Series Premiere Review: A Show With a Split Personality

By Tim Surette

Feb 01, 2013

Do No Harm S01E01: "Pilot"

I'm convinced that at some point in its development, Do No Harm aspired to be a quality show about a man wrestling with his personal demons. But after plenty of studio notes and some tweaks from NBC, it became what you saw tonight: a fractured mess. The story of a doctor with an evil alter ego will always invite comparisons to the classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but you could just as easily compare it to Frankenstein's monster, because someone stitched a medical procedural to a completely different show. HOWEVER! That doesn't mean we can't grab some popcorn and have ourselves a good time watching this.

Performing the show's medical wonders is Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale), who rents his own body from 8:25am to 8:25pm. Taking the night shift is Ian Price (Steven Pasquale with a puffed out chest and meaner eyes), a total dick who parties like a guy who'd have Charlie Sheen worried. Each is aware of the other, and the pilot begins as Cole's go-to solution for suppressing Price—knocking himself out every night with super roofies—hits a snag when Price develops a tolerance to it. It's a solid setup. Cole is a ticking time bomb that blows up AND diffuses itself every morning, leaving him to deal with the destruction Price leaves behind. Essentially, my post-college years.

But it's Do No Harm's approach to the whole situation that defines the show. Take the opening sequence:

Cole never missed an opportunity to slip in sly references to his condition ("I've got company!" "I'm not myself at night!") and I don't know if I was laughing or impressed, but we knew that Price was gonna show up at some point. OH WAIT! Don't forget, Do No Harm is also a medical drama! Very quickly we were jerked over to a scene where Cole was doctoring around in someone's brain, and he was telling this patient that the patient himself could tell his family that his surgery went well ONCE COLE CURED HIM! Already I liked this Cole guy. There was blood and brains on the screen, and I don't watch medical dramas so I thought it was pretty graphic for TV but I guess it wasn't? Then Mrs. Huxtable showed up and she and Cole had witty repartee, and Cole gave some luxury box seats to the janitor because he doesn't do nights. Then Cole got his roofies from the hospital pharmacist illegally? Are you serious, Do No Harm? Next scene he talked to a hot doctor lady who wanted into his trou but he had to keep the pants on because, again, he was going to turn into a monster later that night. Then he went to a support group and the head guy convinced him to go out with the lady doctor, so Cole went to a bar and time was ticking and he had to race home to prevent the ONE THING in his life that he cannot let happen (I'd probably manage my time more wisely). He was too late. Or maybe Price had just developed an immunity to the knockout juice. Then Cole woke up surrounded by naked sluts and cocaine-dusted countertops and enough recycling to turn Tent City into Trump Towers. That's when I looked at the time and realized only 10 minutes of this roller-coaster ride had gone by.

You want subtext? Go read a book underwater! You want nuance? Go to Ances R' Us and pull one off the shelf! You want an examination of the human condition? Go buy the Criterion Collection DVD from Amazon and listen to the director's commentary! Unlike neurosurgeon Dr. Cole, who puts his fingers on people's temporal lobes, Do No Harm isn't here to tickle your intellect.

Say what you will about lapses in logic, ridiculous character behavior, and the show's Limburger dialogue ("Be careful, monkeys have been known to eat their young"), Do No Harm is here to entertain your balls off and isn't going to let something like quality get in its way. It's not a good show, it's a fun show, and to me, it's apparent that the people behind the show are in on the game. If you watch Do No Harm expecting greatness, you will come away disappointed. If you watch expecting a party, you might just enjoy yourself.

The best part of the show by far is the back-and-forth between Cole and Price as one man tries to keep himself together while the other tries to tear him apart. Price used Cole's Kenneth Coles as an ashtray and got extra handsy with his office crush, for crying out loud. That's a violation of a man's sacred territory! Is it a metaphor for alcoholism? Maybe. Is it a metaphor for Hulk-ism or werewolf-ism? Maybe that too. All I know is that it's a hoot, and in Episode 2, the battle gets taken to comical proportions.

To add to the fun, Cole used Price to his benefit, as he did with the cop who put the tennis-injury-faking lady in the hospital. Cole arrived at the guy's doorstep at 8:24pm knowing full well what was going to happen next. "Give me a second to catch up. Are we fighting? Is this a fight?" Price asked as he woke up to a haymaker rearranging his jaw. After he kicked the guy's ass, he was paged for surgery, made a comment about the weasely doctor's small penis, and got ready to stick his hands inside a guy's skull to ruin Cole's life, all to the tune of The Black Keys' commercial hit of the year. I mean come on, this was not meant to be taken seriously. But I'll be damned if I didn't enjoy the hell out of it and laugh my ass off.

And let's give credit to Pasquale, who doesn't exactly turn in a Bryan Cranston performance but does a fine job differentiating between the two characters while using his natural boyish charm to increase the rift between his two roles. And the most important part is that it looks like he's having a blast doing it.

As for the medical stuff, sure, it has no business being in the show. But at least it sticks to the basics: Diagnose the problem, encounter some difficulty, overcome that difficulty, and reap the rewards of a happy patient while looking like the good guy. The benefit of including it in Do No Harm is in maintaining the show's heart-exploding pace (anyone else get a Crank vibe from this show?) and using it to cause problems for Dr. Cole. But that's about it. It's the curse of network TV demanding self-contained stories in an otherwise serialized show, and this is about as egregious of a case as I've seen.

Do No Harm is outrageous, batshit insanity. It's also smart enough to embrace it instead of trying to aspire to be anything more. Many, many, many people will hate this show. I am not one of them, and I am going to enjoy it as long as it lasts (which probably won't be that long).



NOTES

– Why is the pharmacist giving Cole illegal drugs? Why didn't Cole make sure he could get home with plenty of time to sedate himself? What's with the weird shower cinematography? Who would actually write "Do No Harm" in shower steam? Why on Earth would Claire Huxtable give Cole the okay to do an awake craniotomy using the logic that Cole has a perfect record with them when he's never done one before just to try to bring prestige to the hospital even if it means the patient will probably die? Why would his ex-wife Olivia let him brush his hand against the scar he gave her? How did Cole really know Price wouldn't be able to perform surgery, like REALLY? These are questions better left unanswered.

– I LOVED it when the male patient went under the knife and Cole was poking around the language center of his brain, and he said: "It was a tttttttttttttttttttt parrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr—" So funny. Maybe not intentionally funny. But funny.

– If Price bought an airline ticket to Australia, would he end up with the day shift and Cole would have to take nights? Or for that matter, if he went to California, would Cole wake up at 5:25am?

– Is there a significance to 8:25?

– Over/Under on shots of a shirtless Steven Pasquale per episode? I'll set the line at 6.5.

– How soon until Price eats Cole's son?



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • flintslady Dec 24, 2013

    OMG!! Why was this cancelled? Why didn't I even know about this show? This shit is gold!! I will be binging on this this week and then crying over it's cancellation.

  • thescp Feb 12, 2013

    What moronic writer decided to have his estranged ex-wife/baby mama name their son Cole? His full name would have been Cole Cole? How fucking stupid is that?

  • DavidJackson8 Feb 06, 2013

    My opinion of the show so far is quite like my opinion of The Following. I can find numerous flaws in the episodes, but overall, I do find myself enjoying it. Basically, at the very least, it's not particularly boring. Flawed AND boring is obviously the worst. I kind of wish it was on cable though, just because I'd like to see a little less censorship when Price takes over, hehe.

  • natesjokes Feb 04, 2013

    I don't get the low ratings. Yes the show is pretty ridiculous but it's also entertaining as well stated in this review. I enjoyed watching it for what it was and will continue to watch. Also what makes it exciting is seeing what new ways that Cole & Price will use or do to each other.

  • LittleLostPup Feb 04, 2013

    Haha... I really enjoyed this show. I have enough deep thinking and underlying meaning ... I want FUN and it delivered. Felt like a pit in my stomach when he went for surgery... just the thought of Price poking around gave me shivers, lol.

    Oh boy, I'm glad they are gonna make Price the whoring around, coking snorting remorseful dude they hinted at - it won't be fun if he's not really bad!

  • bleumystique Feb 03, 2013

    I want so hard to love the hell out of this show. I want to hate the hell out of this show but I can't do that either. Ugh. What has happened to me? See, I'm embarrassed to say I was a little giddy about the prospects of this. A show covering D.I.D? A show actually using the proper terminology and not saying Multiple Personality Disorder. I wanted to sink my teeth into something exploring the psychology of a dissociative disorder. I wanted to know what happened to J. Cole (nice play btw) that led to him suffering from D.I.D I was waiting for some childhood trauma to be referenced to, to explain why at a certain time every day he's being taken over by his tougher, more reckless alter. I wanted to know why more people didn't know about his condition...or why a freaking neurosurgeon would be so flippant about the actual help he could receive for his condition. In a way his just as reckless as his alter...because this guy isn't even trying hard enough.I wanted to know what Ian had...what he possessed that Cole needed. I was looking for a story of what Cole couldn't deal with that Ian somehow could, what could Ian possibly be protecting Cole from. But Ian is a douche, hell bent on making Cole suffer for no valid reason that we can presume at the moment. And honestly, I don't foresee us ever actually finding out what Ian hates Cole so much. He just does. Okay, so once I wrapped my head around the fact that this wouldn't be actually exploring D.I.D in a real, gripping sort of way that my analytically mind could get goosebumps from...I sighed and just let the show be fun. Which is what it's apparently trying to do. Nothing makes sense. Nothing is trying to make sense. It's so ridiculous that I can't even hate on it. So I'll probably hate watch this show, but that isn't appropriate, I hate watch Revolution, but this will be as close to hate watching as I can get without actually hate watching.
    -I chuckled at Cole using Price to beat the crap out of the abusive guy. This is why i'd actually like to see them call some sort of truce and actually benefit from each other. What the hell. Pasquale does sell you on the role. I'd watch this just because you could visibly see him having a blast with this character and seeing him have fun somehow makes it fun to watch.
    -Gross misuse of the great P. Rashad. Come on people...this is Mrs. Huxtable!
    -I know this rape scene was controversial. What I can say is rape shouldn't be ambiguous. Did Price rape her and she just didn't say that? Did he just assault her? I don't know and I don't like that I don't know what happen there.
    - I'd love it if Cole was really the alter and Price was the host. In fact that would somehow make more sense. Cole being the responsible one trying to fix everything and overcompensate for Price being a reckless asshole. Or I'd like if they somehow tried to work together but fail along the way. Stick to this truce, with both of them having the intention to kill or take over the other. Or I'd like Ian to be more diabolical. He does drugs and is a total jackass but he could be more diabolical an devious...truly worthy of being killed off. I haven't seen where he's really, and truly ruining Cole's life.

  • 66somthing Feb 02, 2013

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THE SHOW! NIP TUCK/AWAKE/ FUN FUN FUN!!!

  • ShuNamHui Feb 02, 2013

    Somehow I have the feeling that Ian Price is the original personality and Cole is in fact the split personality who thinks he is the original.

  • JoshOchendusz Feb 01, 2013

    I even said halfway through the show that it's not good, it's just fun. Then I see you said the same thing in the review. Can't agree more. It's not something I'll watch for quality. It's something I'll watch to get a kick out of.

    "How soon until Price eats Cole's son?" Cole's son? Anyone else get the feeling he just might be Price's son? Seemed about the right age to have been conceived maybe right before Cole started using the nightly coma to avoid Price. And let's face it, that would make things A LOT more fun!

  • vr182 Feb 01, 2013

    I'm almost positive that the crew was rolling on the floor laughing while filming this. I'm pretty sure they know chances are slim to none they'll get a season 2, so everyone's probably like SCREW IT! Let's just have fun! I won't be surprised if the episodes get more ridiculous as the season drags on because one they shot the first one they realized the stupider the better.

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