Coma Miniseries – Review

This two part mini series focuses around a young medical student who discovers that something sinister is going on in her hospital after routine procedures send more than a few seemingly healthy patients into comas on the operating table. Although the premise seemed interesting and the previews looked gripping, I found myself with too many questions and a bit of a weak stomach.

Based on the 1977 book by Robin Cook, this is the second major adaptation of the novel. With Ridley Scott as the executive producer I expected this to be much better than it was.

The first part built up an intriguing story that had me anxiously waiting for the second half. The farther into the first half that I got, the more I got to know the characters, which is sometimes difficult on short mini series such as this. At the first sighting of Dr Mark Bellows and Susan Wheeler I knew there would be a connection between them. Not just because their first scene together is him saving her life, but because he was the only person who seemed to have a good moral compass.

I found this show was a very slow burn in the first half, and a big let down in the second. Although it seemed like there would be a good amount of suspense and pressure from the build up that occurred at first, that wasn’t the case. There were moments that got me going, like when Susan did her tour of Jefferson and came across the creepy old woman played by Ellen Burstyn, or as she was chased around the medical lab by Peter Arno the schizophrenic, but the climax of the episode was merely a disgusting few minutes of a high girl stumbling around discovering secrets.

I have two main complaints with this show. The first is all the unanswered questions. What happened to the people involved in the conspiracy? How did this go on for so long? What happened to those in the comas? Why was the serial killer/psychotic stalker really there, what purpose did he play? Maybe I’m alone in expecting better answers to certain questions but I doubt it. Everywhere I’ve looked either for the answers or to see what others say about this show, I find these same questions over and over again. Leaving such large plot holes really inhibits the enjoyment I can get from a show.

Secondly, the climax and subsequent disturbing images that flashed past during Susan Wheelers ‘high phase’ as I’m calling it were just that: disturbing. Not only did I not need to see blood and guts to make me squeamish, but that did not further the point they were trying to make. I can think of multiple other ways to show how wrong this experimentation on comatose victims was without pulling out yards of intestine, or having a high Susan crawling through blood and guts to get to freedom. In fact, not only was it not the best way to make their point, but it hurt this show to such a degree that I left hating it. I could have forgiven this show for the leftover questions, but it went from an intriguing, tense drama to weird and gross. Seeing all of this from the perspective of a woman still high on coma drugs means fish-eye lenses, unnecessary effects, and the unfortunate downhill progression of a potentially interesting finale.

My Rating: 5/10

As I enjoyed much of the first half, and certain moments in the second half, I do find myself inclined to give this a passing grade but only just. With so many massive, noticeable problems with this mini series I left with a sour taste in my mouth never wanting to relive the show. Normally, even if I don’t thoroughly enjoy a show/movie, I still am curious to read the novel it was based on to figure out where this specific version went wrong. This time? I just want to stop thinking of impregnated comatose women and the weird poles that were stuck into all the patients. And seriously, get that old woman’s face out of my head!

Finally, what did you think of the Scott brothers remake?