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post #1 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 06:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I missed the show due to my OTA only status, but enjoyed this review.
http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/telefile/2012/09/coma-sleep-no-more.php

Coma: Sleep No More
by Ethan Alter September 4, 2012 6:00 AM
Coma: Sleep No More

Having grown up in the '80s, I have fond memories of watching the Michael Crichton-directed movie version of Robin Cook's best-seller Coma during its endless run on cable. While by no means a classic of its particular subgenre (the science-fiction laced medical thriller; see also The Andromeda Strain and the recent Splice), that 1978 film is a lot of fun and almost compulsively watchable, one of those potboilers that you stumble upon a few minutes of and feel the urge to stick around until the end. Since the original is admittedly dated in some respects, though, I was looking forward to A&E's new two-part miniseries, which updates Cook's book to the present day. With the heavy-hitting cast (Lauren Ambrose! Geena Davis! Ellen Burstyn!), experienced production team (including Ridley Scott and his recently departed brother Tony), and good source material, I began watching the first installment -- which aired last night, Part 2 premieres this evening -- anticipating, if nothing else, a solid Labor Day diversion.

What I got instead was a poorly written, embarrassingly acted, generally laughable would-be thriller that, for a second, made me doubt my enjoyment of the original film. But no, Crichton got it right -- it's this version that goes wrong, turning an elegant mystery into a muddled mess. (Having already seen the second installment, I'm sorry to say that it actually makes less sense than the first half.) Here are the biggest questions I'm left mulling after this botched remake operation.

1) Why Doesn't Lauren Ambrose Get Fired?
Obviously, the series goes out of its way to come up with reasons why Ambrose's intrepid medical student, Susan Wheeler, isn't immediately canned from her internship at Peach Tree Memorial hospital, where all the coma-related hijinks are going down. For starters, she's the granddaughter of a legendary Atlanta heart surgeon, whom many of the doctors at Memorial worked with and admired. Secondly, she wins a powerful friend in Dr. Theodore Stark (James Woods), who protects her when the hospital ethics committee first attempts to fire her for her insubordination and unauthorized investigation into the institution's rampant coma cases. And maybe I wouldn't be as bothered by this if there was any hint that Susan had the makings of being a competent doctor. But from practically the first scene, she shows little interest in or aptitude for performing her assigned medical tasks, instead devoting her time to badgering a nurse into granting her access to personal files (and likely getting her fired in the process) and interrogating other doctors while they're trying to eat lunch in peace, all in the name of finding answers to the coma epidemic. (Not surprisingly, she turns out to be as bad a private investigator as she is a med student.) Ambrose is generally a good actress, but here she wanders around looking perpetually dazed and confused... not the kind of expression you want to see on the face of somebody who is aspiring to be a doctor.

2) What's Up With Geena Davis's Jaw?
This Oscar winning actress works so infrequently these days, it's always nice to see her whenever and wherever she pops up. But I have to admit that I spent much of her screentime in Coma wondering why the lower half of her face was so rigid, to the point where she seemed to be having trouble opening her mouth to enunciate her dialogue, something I don't recall from her earlier performances. Was this a character quirk or a Morning Randolph-from-Episodes situation? Either way, it was distracting. I half expected Davis to unlatch her jaw at some point and swallow a rat, V-style.

3) Why Is Mercy So Depopulated?
For a supposedly prestigious hospital in a major metropolitan area, there don't seem to be an awful lot of patients -- or even medical staff -- at Mercy. Most of the time, Sarah and her small team of interns seem to be the only folks in the joint. Perhaps the patients and doctors are staying away due to all the comas or maybe it's because the place is always so dimly lit, which means they're actually there but hidden in shadows. Most likely it means that the production just spent too much money on salaries for all the lead actors to be able afford much in the way of extras. Speaking of that...

4) How Much Did Richard Dreyfuss Get Paid?
Not enough to care about this movie one iota apparently. The third Oscar winner in the cast (alongside Burstyn and Davis) has been cashing paychecks and coasting on his reputation for years now and he phones in yet another performance as Sarah's mentor Professor Hillside. This character wasn't in the original film and his presence here only makes sense (and even then, not really) in the wake of tonight's finale. Mainly he's around to give A&E one more boldfaced name to hype and Dreyfus's total lack of effort indicates that he's well aware of his own superfluousness.

5) Does Jessica Lange Know That Ellen Burstyn is Ripping Off Her American Horror Story Performance?
Okay, so Lange doesn't have a patent on the whole "crazy, old Southern lady" thing. Still, it's hard to listen to Burstyn -- who plays the possibly unstable head of the mysterious Jefferson Institute where all the coma patients go -- yammer on in that lilting Georgia accent without immediately flashing to Constance Langdon's lunatic ramblings. If Ryan Murphy ever decides to return in Constance in a future American Horror Story series, at least he's got the perfect person to play her older sister.

6) How Did This Go So Wrong?
Well, they picked the wrong director to begin with. A doctor himself, Crichton had a knack for depicting how a hospital operates and made even the most outlandish medical mysteries seem vaguely plausible. This Coma, on the other hand, was directed by Mikael Salomon, the TV hired hand who most recently helmed Lifetime's Blue Lagoon reboot, a movie that's actually more coherent (and better lit) than this one. Salomon strains to create an aura of dread and tension and falls completely and utterly short. The film's streamlined running time was another point in its favor, boiling down Cook's book into a tight under-two hour runtime. With four hours to fill, this version spins its wheels an awful lot. Tonight's finale, for example, contains a chase sequence that seems to last an eternity and ultimately accomplishes little beyond eating up screentime. I wouldn't go so far as to say that watching this Coma will put you in a coma... but it does come close.
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post #2 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 07:49 AM
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I liked it okay. It's filmed in Atlanta, and it's fun noticing the Arts Center (and its parking garage), Agnes Scott (probably), and various large houses. And a friend from high school, Nita Stubblebine, as the distraught mother 15 minutes in.

It does address the creepy but real issue that hospitals are a bit shakey as to how they determine when a person is really and irretreaveably brain-dead, because they profit so highly from human organs. And it sort of dances around issues addressed by the Affordable Health Care program.

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post #3 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 08:59 AM
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Anything with Lauran Ambrose is just a must view for me... (I bought Six Feet Under recently)

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post #4 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 12:59 PM
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Anything with Lauran Ambrose is just a must view for me...
True, that.

Looking forward to Part 2 tonite, so far this has been interesting.smile.gif

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post #5 of 23 Old 09-04-2012, 06:00 PM
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I fell into a coma watching this.
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 11:21 AM
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I thought it was much better than the Crichton effort which I watched a couple years ago and noticed the arc was weak in that movie. Great to update the story to modern issues which of course we can't discuss on the AVS Forum. And maybe that was why despite the great cast it was placed as an "end of summer" event which guaranteed it less viewers. rolleyes.gif
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post #7 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 11:57 AM
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I thought Night 1 was OK..Night 2 was just horrible... I too went into a Coma last night. When Lauren Ambrose dove into the sewer.... Come on
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 12:27 PM
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Couldn't get thru the 2nd part...
Where's the SCI-FI????rolleyes.gif
I am not interested in another frickin' medical drama.

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post #9 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 02:48 PM
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What the hell did that crazy killer guy have to do with anything? I get that he was Geena Davis' patient, but that doesn't explain what his part in this even meant.
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post #10 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 03:46 PM
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What the hell did that crazy killer guy have to do with anything? I get that he was Geena Davis' patient, but that doesn't explain what his part in this even meant.

It meant they needed something other than the medical intrigue to keep the audience's interest. Therefore, a creepy serial killer. But it seemed from the posts around here that even having him around wasn't enough biggrin.gif

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post #11 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Lucca View Post

I thought Night 1 was OK..Night 2 was just horrible... I too went into a Coma last night. When Lauren Ambrose dove into the sewer.... Come on

Yeah me too. It had so much promise and did not deliver.

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post #12 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 04:36 PM
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As a fan of the original movie I was disappointed with A&E's two part movie. To make it a two night event too much "time killing filler" was employed. I did not like the "crazed" killer along with other changes. I had high hopes for this version.

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post #13 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 03:31 AM
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It had so much promise and did not deliver.

Maybe it was because it didn't have enough time to flesh out the storyline. The first part was only 1:18:00 in length and the 2nd part was only 1:22:00 in length. That means there were 42 and 38 minutes of commercials/promos, or 21/19 minutes per hour. Ouch!

That is horrible.

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post #14 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 10:35 AM
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It had so much promise and did not deliver.
Yeah, I'm out.

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post #15 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 11:22 AM
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So they meant to tell us that Geena Davis character got away and will put another coma factory in China?

The old lady was just creepy.... "my babies"

Oh nice original idea to name James Woods character Stark... LOL

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post #16 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 03:34 PM
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I have watched the first hour of Episode 1 of Coma and have been generally underwhelmed. The problem may be that I watched Michael Crichton's classic '70 film earlier this week, which was much more tightly written. Another thing is the casting of Lauren Ambrose, who is 34, as a medical student. Say what?! To make matters worse, a guy who was hitting on her told her that she looked too young to be a doctor. In stark contrast, in the movie, Geneviève Bujold, who was 36 at the time, played a character named Susan Wheeler who was a fairly senior doctor.

But I digress. The critics have been fairly evenly divided on the Coma miniseries. Some have said that it was a perfectly serviceable thriller, but others have savaged it as silly dreck. I'll stick with it through the end on Episode 1 and then decide whether to slog on through Episode 2. I guess I need to get a life.smile.gif
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The climbing along the ceiling tiles is impossible to do. Those things are fragile and break into pieces very easily and will not support any kind of weight.

Even trying to stay on the support rails is impossible, as they flex easily.

BTW, being 34 and looking 34 are two different things. biggrin.gif

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post #18 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 06:27 PM
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The climbing along the ceiling tiles is impossible to do. Those things are fragile and break into pieces very easily and will not support any kind of weight.
Even trying to stay on the support rails is impossible, as they flex easily.
BTW, being 34 and looking 34 are two different things. biggrin.gif

You are right, in fact the whole thing was preposterous. Not only do we see a grown woman crawling over ceiling tiles too fragile to support anything like her weight, we see a doctor murdered by a garbage truck, don't ask, under circumstances, which would immediately alert the dimmest investigator that evildoing was afoot. Coma was an utter waste of a mostly talented cast. I can't imagine that there will be a Season 2 of Coma but if there is it won't be the first time I will have been surprised, or in the case of Coma, horrified.smile.gif
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post #19 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Shaded Dogfood View Post

I liked it okay. It's filmed in Atlanta, and it's fun noticing the Arts Center (and its parking garage).

Ah, I thought that was Richard Meier's marvelous High Museum that was standing in for the creepy hospital. Funny.

As to the miniseries - ugh. The whole thing with the deranged killer made no sense and they wasted a good chunk of the 3 hour running time on him. Geena Davis was wasted. James Woods was really wasted. Richard Dryfus acted like he was wasted. Heck, the whole cast was wasted.

When it aired on A&E, a channel that's become essentially worthless (all those promos for various brain-dead, redneck-lifestyle shows were telling), that should have told me something. I'll know better the next time they have "event" programming.
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post #20 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

You are right, in fact the whole thing was preposterous. Not only do we see a grown woman crawling over ceiling tiles too fragile to support anything like her weight, we see a doctor murdered by a garbage truck, don't ask, under circumstances, which would immediately alert the dimmest investigator that evildoing was afoot. Coma was an utter waste of a mostly talented cast. I can't imagine that there will be a Season 2 of Coma but if there is it won't be the first time I will have been surprised, or in the case of Coma, horrified.smile.gif

Season 2??? Was there a season 1? I thought this was a two part "mini-series"....What we saw is what there was....
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post #21 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 07:41 AM
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Yeah this mini series should have been on SHO or HBO at least...

And another example that if you get the best actors out there and put them together the result won't be always good..

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post #22 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 07:56 AM
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Ah, I thought that was Richard Meier's marvelous High Museum that was standing in for the creepy hospital. Funny.

It was, though they matted on a different lower story. It and the Woodruff Arts Center are right next to one another..

Normally I lose patience with those who pick apart everything, but I too was amazed they pretended someone could crawl around on a dropped ceiling. I hope this doesn't ally itself with the using-the-air-ducts-to-move-around-the=building cliche that has been around for far too long. This two-parter was around for too long as well, though parts of it were reasonably gripping.

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post #23 of 23 Old 09-16-2012, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Nott used two ARRI Alexa cameras shooting Log C to SxS cards to cover the action (and a Canon EOS 5D Mk II for one dream sequence).
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