Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Why I'm Hopeful About Saving Hope
There's nobody in the cast named Hope you must understand. Hope is the name of the fictional hospital (actually Hope Zion) set somewhere in Toronto --I know because the slow motion opening montage includes shots of Rogers Center.
I'm almost prone to making a terribly pun about hope springs eternal because this is the latest Canadian "Peripheral" to debut --it's a defiantly Canadian content drama with enough details fudged so American audiences will also want to tune in.
Think Rookie Blue currently running simulcast on Global and ABC. Think The Firm which has been running Saturdays on Global and NBC as a less successful variant.
Describing Saving Hope is going to be a problem. According to the TV Critic's Code I must not divulge key plot points except to say the premise depends on a key point, a gimmick if you like.
Already readers of this column have been telling me they have been some what put off on another new Canadian series Continuum because it contained a gimmick they could not swallow.
The gimmick here is well developed in the first episode but began getting irritating by Episode Two which I've also seen.
Let's start with Saving Hope's assets. First off the cast are all impossibly good looking to be doctors. The doctors I recently had to consult were bald, pot bellied and even rude. One of them said the fact he was ungainly was a key reason in becoming a doctor.
In the spirit of Grey's Anatomy these doctors spend as much time fooling around with each other as they do honing to perfection their medical skills.
But there's the magnificent set-- it totals 28,700 square feet with winding corridors and assorted operating rooms. It looks completely real unlike many TV hospital sets so cheers to production designer Benno Tutter.
Calgary born Eric Durance is much too orchidaceous to play determined surgeon Alex Reid but she's a good enough actress to get away with it much of the time --she played Lois Lane on Smallville.
She's paired with Vancouver born Michael Shanks who is chief of surgery Dr. Charlie Harris --Shanks is best known for another Canadian sci fi outing Stargate SG-1. Too danged handsome by half Shanks seems delighted to have burst forth from his TV Sci Fi cocoon and enjoys some great scenes with a young boy in the second episode.
Born in Winnipeg but raised in New Zealand Daniel Gillies plays the ladies' man orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joel Goran and looks equally at home in this kind of romantic melodrama --most recently he played Elijah in The Vampire Diaries.
Co-starring is an actress I first interviewed on the set of Night Heat --Wendy Crewson who plays acting head of surgery Dr. Dana Kinney.
Other young Canadians high up in the cast include Julia Taylor Ross, and Kristopher Turner.
The executive producers veterans Ilana Frank and David Wellington who also directs the first hour. have a fine track record that also includes the series The Eleventh Hour.
Frank told TV critics last week there was one heart stopping moment when NBC wanted to program Saving Hope Thursdays at 10 --smack dab against her other simulcast hit Rookie Blue!
One big point in Saving Hope's future is the look of each episode --for once a Canadian "Periperal" matches the American competition in terms of lighting, editing and brilliant camera work (from Steve Danyluk).
I think Saving Hope should entice the same basically female audience who dote over Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.
It all depends on whether or not they'll accept the basic gimmick.
SAVING HOPE PREMIERES ON CTV ON THURSD. JUNE 7 AT 9 P.M.
MY RATING: *** 1/2.