Review: Do No Harm 1×1 (NBC)

Dr Jekyll and Mr No Ratings

Do No Harm

In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC
In Canada: Thursdays, 10pm ET, CTV
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Seeing as the first episode of NBC’s new show has the lowest ever ratings for a mid-season show, I’m not sure I needed to have bothered with a full review for this boy – it’s not long for this world. But I will and I’m going to take the opportunity to wonder exactly how short-term broadcast networks’ memories are.

See, on the one hand, I’m impressed by their commitment to trying to make an idea work. ABC has just greenlit a pilot based on The Syndicate, a UK show about Lottery winners with secrets and how they’re affected by their win. Thing is, NBC did that not so long ago as Windfall.

Maybe that’s okay, given the show was on another network: one US network is rarely bothered if they make an almost identical show to another’s within a year of it airing – indeed, that’s often the point.

But how about when it’s remaking its own shows, shows that flopped. Do No Harm is a take on the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in which a brilliant neurosurgeon (aren’t they always? Aren’t there ever really rubbish neurosurgeons? Under-achieving neurosurgeons? After all, it’s not exactly rocket science is it?) has multiple personality disorder. Every night at 8.25pm, his other, sociopathic personality takes over and tries to screw up his life and possibly mutilate and rape anyone he comes across. Then the nice surgeon wakes up again at 8.25am, trying to work out what the bad guy did.

Thing is, we’ve already had Awake just a year ago, which had the two different lives, one inside dreams, one outside (or maybe they’re both dreams). That at least had the virtue of being pretty good.

But before that, also on NBC, we had My Own Worst Enemy, in which mild-mannered Christian Slater discovered that he was really an implanted personality and that his real, nasty, more interesting secret agent self came out at night when he was asleep. In that show as well, the nice guy decides enough is enough and decides to take revenge against himself – as does the bad guy – while they try to come to some kind of working arrangement in the interim.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? No, wait. It’s the opposite of that. This was not an idea that needed exploring again.

And the ratings have shown it. Here’s a trailer.

Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale, “Rescue Me”) is a highly respected neurosurgeon who has it all – a lucrative career, confident charm and the gift of compassion. But he also has a deep, dark secret. One morning, after waking up disoriented in a wrecked hotel room amidst near-naked women he’s never seen before, he knows one thing: it happened again. Every night at the same hour, something inside Jason changes, leaving him almost unrecognizable – seductive, devious, borderline sociopathic. This new man is his dangerous alternate personality, who goes by the name Ian Price. For years Jason has battled Ian, keeping him in check with a powerful experimental sedative. But now his – their – body has developed a resistance to the serum, setting Ian free once again. And to make matters worse, after being suppressed for so long, Ian is hell-bent on taking revenge on his oppressor. With everyone Jason cares about at risk – patients, friends, coworkers and even the woman he loves – he must stop…

Is it any good?
Now, the show itself is a bit rubbish, albeit oddly compelling when it’s not boring you senseless with yet more medical procedures. It’s got a good central performance – performances even, since the star Steven Pasquale does a good job of distinguishing the two personalities, and is both amusing and disturbing as evil guy – but it’s an uneasy attempt to blend medical procedural with a totally unrelated concept that simply doesn’t work and ends up being as dumb as a bag full of rocks.

Our hero, instead of hiring a lock-up and shutting himself in at night – cf every show involving werewolves out there, including Being Human (US) – goes to extraordinarily elaborate and yet immeasurably stupid lengths to simply remove himself from the action. He takes experimental medication, rather than over-the-counter sleeping pills, and becomes immune to the medication. No one becomes immune to sleeping pills.

He checks himself into a hotel miles and has all his valuables sent to himself by messenger. Except, of course, he leaves something in his pockets that his alter-ego finds… to terrible effect. And, of course, he tells no one of his problem, even if it would be really, really helpful to do so.

So you’ll spend most of your time thinking this isn’t so much a terrible problem afflicting an innocent man, as an easily overcome problem that a very stupid man is needlessly endangering people with. So no sympathy for the protagonist, some enjoying of the antagonist, but that’s about it.

On balance then, I’d recommend definitely not watching this, except perhaps to see Pasquale’s performances, because it’s going to be gone very soon.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.