Coma Miniseries Starts Strong But Crashes Like a Derailed Crazy Train
The best thing about Coma, the Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott remake of the 1978 movie that Michael Crichton adapted from Robin Cook's book, is that the first part on Monday (A&E, 9pm) is gripping, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. Although, it has its flaws.
The worst part about Coma is that the second half on Tuesday (9pm) is so convoluted, crazy, strange and badly acted that there's a good chance you'll feel like you're watching a bloody slasher movie, not some hoped-for miniseries triumph. A crazed Ellen Burstyn wielding a syringe seen in an elongated shadow sort of caps off the craziness.
Still, Monday's Coma is worth watching. It's fun, star studded and well made.
Coma stars Six Feet Under's Lauren Ambrose as promising medical student Susan Wheeler. She's the granddaughter of a legendary surgeon whose influence hangs heavy over the hospital where a wing is named in his honor.
James Woods plays chief surgeon Dr. Theordore Stark. Richard Dreyfuss is Professor Hillsdale.
Susan is a brilliant student. She's kind and curious. Which gets her into trouble.
Soon, she begins to notice a pattern where seemingly simple surgeries end up with patients in comas. Worse, those patients are carted off to a mysterious building where Ellen Burstyn's creepy Mrs. Emerson is in control - totally. She barely opens the door when people want to get in.
However, she conducts tours to give the impression she isn't hiding a factory full of comatose patients dangling, in The Matrix fashion, midair from wires and feeding tubes.
In Monday's first half, Susan uncovers a serious problem at the hospital. Geena Davis is Dr. Agnetta Lindquist. She's conducting research that appears on the brink of curing Alzheimer's disease. But, trouble is, she's running out of patients.
That first half of Coma is great, despite a few problems. Much of it is filmed so dark that it gets difficult keeping track of what's going on, or who's saying what. And there are quibbles, like Geena Davis has trouble speaking - it may be time for a collagen-injection intervention. Very distracting.
But, overall, the first half of Coma is creepy, compelling and at times bordering on great.
Which cannot be said for the second half. Almost immediately, it feels like a different movie, a rushed movie. The actors seem to be playing different roles than they did the first half. And the story veers wildly from a sci-fi mystery to a slasher movie, and not the good kind.
Fortunately, the first half of Coma works on its own. You'll need to get a few minutes into part two to figure out how it ends. But there's almost no need to stick around for that second two-hour part.