DVD REVIEW: SAVING HOPE: SEASON 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: MICHAEL SHANKS, DANIEL GILLIES, ERICA DURANCE, HUSE MADHAVJI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Canadian supernatural medical drama Saving Hope settles down into the delicate absurdity of its first season with Season 2 and continues to provide a quirky take on its light, entertaining brand of hospital-based drama. The fallout of Hope Zion’s Chief of Surgery Charlie Harris’ (Shanks) coma accident from Season 1 begins to have adverse effects on his professional and personal life when friends, family, and colleagues take note on his apparent psychic abilities when it comes to saving people’s lives.
For those not in the know, Charlie’s abilities are that he can speak to his patients when they’re either unconscious or just plain dead. Strange as it may sound, such a technique for plot and character development is given a remarkably human touch – enhanced by Saving Hope’s hospital setting.
Season 2 develops the antics of Season 1 as characters attempt to balance their personal affairs (and sometimes literal affairs) with working in a hospital alongside a high-ranking surgeon who can communicate with the dead and the unconscious. The gentle feel of the show and the on-off story arcs make for laid-back viewing, but Saving Hope never comes across as lazy.
If anything, it’s too darn pretty to be lazy. In true big name American/Canadian network style (Saving Hope is broadcast on NBC and CTV across the pond) the girls remain pretty, the boys remain ruggedly handsome, the show itself is shot with a swooning array of slow zoom and soft close-ups, and just about every other shot is neatly littered with the show’s trademark angelic strobe lighting effect.
And just like any good TV drama, characters receive well-drummed-out development that is carefully moved along by Charlie’s paranormal abilities. Series regulars such as Dr. Shahir Hamza (Madhavji), Dr. Maggie Lin (Julia Taylor Ross) and Dr. Joel Goran (Gillies) all receive pleasant if unremarkable storylines that keep the drama alive.
The real jewel in Season 2’s crown, however, continues to be Charlie’s ability to communicate with his patients’ ghosts, which doesn’t nearly give the show the supernatural element it suggests. There’s no apocalyptic visitations from the Devil or God claiming Charlie as their beyond-human disciple – Saving Hope is far too snugly for something of that intensity. Instead, Charlie’s abilities lend a helping hand in giving the ever-present human drama a few steps up in terms of impact and development of the show itself.
Season 2 brings with it an added dose of drama as Charlie’s abilities start to have an effect on his relationship with fiancée Alex (Durance) and ex-wife Dawn (Michelle Nolden), both of whom draw closer to Charlie as well as drift apart from him. The rest of the characters’ stories, as mentioned above, are enjoyable enough but never retain as much impact as Charlie’s predicaments – after all, with a character like Charlie, anyone else in the show can be considered an anti-climax, or at best there to merely add to the narrative quality of Charlie’s adventures with the dead.
Perhaps shows such as Scrubs and House have made television far more difficult for any new medical drama to bring with it something memorable, but you can’t blame Saving Hope for trying. Sometimes, throughout Season 2, Saving Hope does more than try - it quietly succeeds and thrives in its charmingly strange world.
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