There have been a couple of mini-series remakes in the past few years that involve a well-known source material that features a twist at the end – A&E’s Andromeda Strain in 2008, and AMC’s The Prisoner in 2009. When you have source material that is so familiar to fans and the climactic twist is so well known, how do you remake it and still make it interesting? That’s the key…and given the two I mentioned, it can be met with varying degrees of success.
A&E upcoming mini-series remake of Coma, which comes from the team of Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott and airs next Monday and Tuesday at 9/8c, has that same task…based on the 1977 Robin Cook book that was made into a 1978 movie directed by Michael Crichton and is well known enough that those familiar with it already know what the conclusion is, it has to add not only it’s own spin on the story but on the climax.
In this version, Susan Wheeler (Lauren Ambrose, Six Feet Under, Torchwood: Miracle Day) is a med student at Peach Tree Memorial in Atlanta. When a couple patients fall into comas after seemingly simple operations, she starts to look in to the records and finds an alarming trend, which all points to the mysterious Jefferson Institute…and finds that she can’t trust anyone.
As with other efforts, some heavy hitters are included in the cast to put some weight behind the production – James Woods as Dr. Theodore Stark, the Chief of Staff who doesn’t really care what the Board of Directors has to say; Geena Davis as Dr. Agnetta Lindquist, the icy chief of Psychiatry and head of the ethics committee, who’s own ethics could use some review; Richard Dreyfus as Professor Hillside, who was a friend of Wheeler’s grandfather; and Ellen Burstyn as Mrs. Emerson, the creepy administrator at the Jefferson Institute.
Other cast members include Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me) as Dr. Mark Bellows, Wheeler’s supervisor and surgical resident, and Joe Morton (Eureka) as Dr. Nelson, head of Anesthesiology.
For this rendition, the setting has been relocated from Boston (in the book and the movie at the fictional Boston Memorial) to Atlanta – which seems like a popular filming location as of late for a variety of TV productions. Other than perhaps for location filming, I don’t know if there was a reason for the change of setting – it doesn’t seem important to the plot, and Boston has well know links between hospitals, universities and biotechnology companies.
Viewers who are familiar with the book/movie should drop any expectations based on knowledge of the characters – like I said, they need to twist things up, so although some names are the same/similar, they are not a one-to-one match.
And as for the ultimate climax – well, I’ll leave that to the viewer. I don’t want to spoil anything. But there is an additional twist on what is going on – at least from what I remember of the original, which I haven’t seen in years.
My only complaint is that it seemed too long…I think some parts of the story could have been left out, as they don’t have any bearing on the plot itself.On a side note, I love when the studios put together interesting ways to present their review materials…you may remember when I got the press kit for Falling Skies – my daughter still uses the satchel. Well, when this kit arrived, I was actually slightly worried…but I can’t wait to take that lunch bag and leave it in the fridge at work…
Coma begins on Monday, September 3rd, at 9PM ET on A&E, and concludes the following night.