In “Saving Hope”, Charlie (Michael Shanks) is in a car accident leaving him in a coma for most of the first season. While in the coma, his spirit roams the hospital interacting with other dead or nearly dead patients, helping them solve their dilemmas, watching his fiancée, Alex (Erica Durance), and ex-wife, Dawn (Michelle Nolden), fight over whether or not to pull the plug. When Charlie finally awakens, he is left with the “gift” of seeing dead and nearly dead spirits in the hospital. He reluctantly makes the effort to help them with their problems, afraid he may be going insane. He finally lets hospital psychiatrist, Gavin (Kristopher Turner) know he may be hallucinating and is prescribed medication, but his ability doesn’t go away. After a near overdose, he decides to let Alex know. She doesn’t take it well and Charlie decides the best thing to do is to take a break from the relationship while he sorts out his situation. This serves to complicate matters, as free of Charlie, Alex finds herself drawn to colleague and ex-boyfriend Joel (Daniel Gillies).
I love “Saving Hope”. I like the characters and would be as happy seeing Alex with Charlie as I would with Joel. It’s filmed locally, right here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which is a bonus as–like with “Rookie Blue” and “Orphan Black“–it doesn’t try to hide or disguise the city. The stories are every bit as compelling as “Grey’s Anatomy” and sometimes as cringe-worthy as the most gross “Grey’s” emergency case or “Bones” opening segment. I like that it’s a guy who sees ghosts, and that he does so reluctantly. Charlie’s a good guy who means well, but he’s also worried for his career and social life and we get to see his internal struggle. Unlike “Ghost Whisperer”, Charlie has yet to experience catharsis into acceptance of his ability, and Shanks does an excellent job portraying this.
Where “Saving Hope” fails, is deciding if it’s a supernatural show or a hospital drama. This week’s episode was a prime example of that indecision, as there wasn’t a single ghostly encounter in the entire show. The odd thing is, as a pure medical drama, it worked. Maybe the confusion is not on the part of the writers, but on me. The show has potential as a supernatural-slash-medical drama. It works as a purely medical drama. The question is would it work as a purely supernatural one? If they took the action outside of the hospital, perhaps, but then you’d be taking away Charlie’s source of spirit. People die in the hospital. As a doctor, Charlie is in a position to be their first welcome into the afterlife. Without the medicine, “Saving Hope” would be nothing more than “Ghost Whisperer: the early years”–assuming Charlie eventually comes to terms with his ability and whether he ultimately decides it is more a blessing than a curse.
Did you watch this week’s “Saving Hope”? What did you think? Were you disappointed there were no ghosts? Let’s talk in the comments below.