‘Do No Harm,’ no hyding its troubles
The new NBC show, a 'Jekyll' reboot, sounds interesting
January 30, 2013
One in a series of Media Life previews of new midseason shows.
NBC’s “Do No Harm”
Thursdays at 10 p.m.; premieres Jan. 31
“Harm” is a modern-day retelling of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale) appears to be leading an idyllic life. He’s handsome, a successful doctor and a real charmer with the ladies.
But Cole is hiding a dark secret. Every night he loses control of his body to an alternate personality who goes by the name of Ian Price and engages in wild, often dangerous behavior.
Cole had stopped Price’s escapades for a time with an experimental medicine, but his body has apparently become resistant to the serum and now Price is looking to extract revenge on Cole for temporarily locking him away. He’s out to hurt everyone Cole is close to.
The show co-stars “The Cosby Show’s” Phylicia Rashad as Dr. Vanessa Younger, the head of the neurosurgery department at Cole’s hospital.
“Harm” has an interesting concept, but the odds seem to be against its survival.
The first strike is that the show is debuting at midseason. It did not benefit from the extensive promotion during the Olympics that NBC’s largely successful slate of new fall shows received.
And what promotion it did receive has come at a time of relatively low ratings for the network, with top shows “Sunday Night Football,” “Revolution” and “The Voice” all on hiatus. That will probably mean lower awareness of the show.
It’s also debuting in a timeslot where NBC has struggled mightily since “ER” went off the air four years ago. It has a weak lead-in, “1600 Penn,” the new comedy that drew just a 1.3 adults 18-49 rating last week.
Plus it airs against tough competition. ABC’s “Scandal” has grown into the No. 1 show in the timeslot and its popularity has surged over the past two months.
And CBS’s “Elementary” is poised for a big boost next week. The new drama is airing right after the Super Bowl Sunday, which should translate into a big ratings boost when it returns to its regular timeslot.
All that said, “Harm” should do better than NBC’s previous timeslot occupant, the low-rated newsmagazine “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” which averaged a mere 1.0 rating this season.
And if NBC sees creative promise in “Harm,” it could move the show to a new timeslot or relaunch the show next fall with a better promotion.
What media people are saying
Buyers do not have high hopes for “Harm.” Reviews of the show have been lukewarm and its timeslot is worrisome.
Over the past few years more than half a dozen shows have moved unsuccessfully through the timeslot, including “Awake,” “The Firm,” “Prime Suspect,” “The Marriage Ref,” “The Apprentice” and several comedies. All the dramas have been canceled.
There’s no reason to think “Harm” will do any better.
“I think these types of [fantasy] shows are popular right now with ‘Once Upon a Time’ and ‘Grimm’ on broadcast TV,” says Brad Adgate, senior vice president and director of research at Horizon Media.
“But airing in the Thursday 10 p.m. time period on NBC, its prospects are more in line with ‘Prime Suspect,’ ‘The Firm’ and ‘Awake’ instead of ‘ER,’ ‘LA Law’ or ‘Hill Street Blues.’”
A TV critic’s take
“That’s the fundamental problem with the series: It can’t make up its mind between its ‘good side’ and its ‘dark side.’ Is it a gritty drama or a postmodern farce of some kind? The show is laughable, but I suspect the writers are dead serious. Pasquale probably deserves an award too, for making ‘Do No Harm’ as believable as possible. He does convince us that he’s Jason one minute and Ian the next, but then the absurd situations and moronic dialogue get in the way.”
– David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle
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