As viewers gear up for the start of the new TV season, A&E makes a short-run pitch for their attention with the two-part drama "Coma."
Airing at 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, it stars Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under," "Torchwood: Miracle Day") as Susan Wheeler, a medical student who begins to notice that a lot of people in Atlanta's Peach Tree Memorial Hospital are slipping into comas -- and ending up in the Jefferson Institute, a special-care facility. Wheeler and surgical resident Mark Bellows (Steven Pasquale, "Rescue Me") dig deeper into the mystery -- at once finding nasty business and getting the unpleasant attention of people with secrets to keep.
If this sounds familiar, then you probably are aware
The older movie was a tidy little thriller. The new version struggles to find and maintain momentum. The second night is for the most part a very long chase sequence, one that may test your patience. The first night may test your patience in another way; expect a lot of
Ambrose and Pasquale are good enough, although in neither case would I put this in their highlight reel. Pasquale, for one, had much better material on "Rescue Me" -- and will be tearing the scenery as a Jekyll-and-Hyde type in NBC's midseason drama "Do No Harm."
Mikael Salomon's directing offers plenty of atmosphere. (Some credit may also be due to executive producers Ridley and Tony Scott; Tony, who died recently, and Ridley are well known for their visual style.) And the supporting cast is rich in scene-stealers -- Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Burstyn, James Woods and Geena Davis. But the actors are not well-served by John J. McLaughlin's script, which seems to concede that the audience will know the major plot twists ahead of time -- so they might as well spend more pages on that long, long chase.
When: 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday