A Gifted Man: Pilot Review

Dr Michael Holt is an extremely wealthy, successful and sought after New York neurosurgeon. His ex-wife suddenly comes back into his life and they reconnect. Except it turns out she’s dead, a ghost and has unresolved stuff that she wants him to help with.

I don’t quite know what to make of this pilot. Technically everything about it was very well put together and it has an interesting and different idea behind it. It wasn’t even that I was just bored or just didn’t like it, I really actually felt uncomfortable watching it.

I think the problem is that although it’s a bit of a daft concept, it’s handled absolutely straight. This guy is a rational scientist who out of the blue is experiencing something he doesn’t believe in and is utterly shaken by it. Watching someone else’s life be turned upside down, even someone like this who isn’t necessarily a very nice person, is not a particularly pleasant experience.

I also couldn’t help but jump ahead a few episodes, or even seasons in my head. I’m guessing it’s going to turn into an extended Christmas Carol, with the fairly Scrooge like mean person being turned into a better doctor and a better person by the ghost of relationships past. But while he’s becoming a better person he is also to all intents and purposes losing his mind – talking and listening to someone who isn’t really there. So those around him worry that there’s something medically wrong with him and he’s forced to cover for himself and explain his sudden changes of attitude. The best thing for him would be for the ghost to go away, but that would effectively be killing her all over again. As above, potentially interesting, but I’m not sure it’s something I really want to watch.

This really is more my problem than it is the show’s. I have several shows at the moment (Supernatural, Grey’s Anatomy) where although I love them, they’re becoming increasingly difficult to watch because they rely on terrible things happening to the characters in order to drive the plots. It makes sense and makes things interesting, but the unrelenting misery and disaster isn’t really doing much for my general temperament.

I do think there are a few problems for A Gifted Man, the pilot was an interesting set up, but I wonder what they’re going to do each week. The pilot episode had an extremely heavy emphasis on the set up, to the great detriment of the multiple medical cases that were squashed in and very poorly developed. I’m guessing the weekly episodes will lean more towards a medical procedural with just a side line in ghostly exposition and the gradual softening of Scrooge, in which case they need to do a lot better job with the patients and cases of the week. There also needs to be some work on the supporting characters, the scary competent administrator has potential, the wacky spiritual sister less so.

The pilot of A Gifted Man was a good piece of television; it has an interesting concept which was well written, directed and acted. If the show manages to navigate the potential pitfalls I’ve mentioned I think it could be a show that many people will enjoy (although I didn’t really see anything that people would absolutely adore). I just don’t think I’ll be watching, because I’m simultaneously massively cynical and desperately in need of mindless happiness.

Other reviews:
Aol TV – CBS has seen fit to stick ‘A Gifted Man’ on Fridays, but let’s hope that means lowered expectations will allow it to develop into an unconventional, character-driven drama about mortality, death and medicine too. There’s certainly a lot of life in that premise, judging by the show’s first episode.

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  1. May 17th, 2012
  2. September 4th, 2012
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