Wednesday, February 8, 2012
MS Wars: An In-Your-Face Documentary
I wish TV critics would stop writing obituaries for the death of the TV documentary which seems to be disappearing from many networks.
It's alive and kicking and one need look no further than the quite brilliant hour MS Wars: Hope, Science And The Internet which premieres on CBC-TV's The Nature Of Things Thursday night at 8.
It's not surprising to me that this one really works --after all it was made by the Regina couple Leif Storm Kaldor and Leslea Mair (for Zoot Pictures) --they last delivered the award winning documentary Remote Control War.
The story could have been torn from yesterday's headlines. Or just look at the Internet where the debate rages about the so-called Liberation treatment which many MS patients swear has worked for them.
Both sides in this debate would agree Multiple Sclerosis is a crippling disease and as yet there is no cure. Its long range symptoms include fatigue and loss of muscle control and increasing debility.
Starting in 2009 an Itallian doctor Paolo Zamboni announced he was advocating a new procedure that could help many patients.
It was Liberation Therapy that unblocked plugged jugular veins to help cope with a condition he called chronic cerebrospinal venus insufficiency.
He published one small research paper which got picked up on the Internet and suddenly patients were bombarding their physicians with demands for information about the treatment. As one doctor grumbles an erroneous headline in her local paper produced a stampede to her door.
It all seemed too good to be true and it was. The Canadian government blocked treatment until the proper research could be concluded --but that would take up to a decade of clinical trials.
MS Wars examines the conflict that broke out between conservative physicians and the often rambunctious Internet sites.
We even visit with certain Canadian patients who journeyed to places like Costa Rica where treatnent is available. Some experienced wonderful results while others were clearly disappointed. By humanizing the controversy MS Wars shows that hope can sometimes be illusory.
But it also highlights the enormous power of our Social Networks in arming people with all kinds of knowledge to challenge a system they no longer believe in.
Shot like a news program this one could just as easily have wound up on CBC's the fifth estate.
MS WARS PREMIERES ON CBC-TV's NATURE OF THINGS ON THURSD. FEB. 9 AT 8 P.M.
MY RATING: ***1/2.