As those of you taking the time to read this column are painfully aware, Saving Hope saw its last two episodes delayed, and then pulled with the final two episodes put up on the interwebs for those parties interested in the outcome of Charlie Harris and his fiance, Alex Reid. (While I am admittedly not that interested, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get yelled at by the 17 people who saw it through to the finish.) I, and several others, spent time discussing the show’s many shortcomings. However, it’s not a show without some merit. The show was never afraid of portraying death on the show, and it could play the emotional beats really well when they were earned. Unfortunately, an hour long drama cannot be made up entirely of the emotionally-wrenching moments. In the in-between, the show would careen off the rails. While the idea for the show sounds interesting, it ultimately seemed to cause problems in the writers’ room as they kept searching for more and more plot contrivances to keep the suspense going. Ultimately, NBC spent very little money on a Canadian show that wasn’t very good. No one watched, and now it’s gone. The odds were stacked against it from the get go, and it wasn’t good enough to reverse it. It’s certainly not the first show to suffer such a fate.
Still, there was one main plotline to resolve before it could take its final bow: When would Charlie wake up, and how would him being conscious affect the other characters? The final two episodes did give us a little bit of insight into how it all may play out when the show resumes its second season in Canada. It was good to see them making Charlie’s return to the conscious world anything but smooth. And while Charlie didn’t have a lot to do in the penultimate episode (save for some fairly nonsensical dream sequences), the finale highlighted some of the better, and more frustrating, parts of the show. Make no mistake, Michael Shanks was tremendous in the finale. He was witty, charming and handled his emotional moments very impressively. That being said, his performance in the finale makes the decision to keep him somewhat sidelined throughout the season look even worse in retrospect. He was the best actor on the show, but he got to truly bring it very rarely. It’s the Keeping the Corvette in the Garage Corollary: Sure, you won’t get it scratched, but where is the fun in it just sitting there? I don’t think the show becomes markedly better if Michael Shanks figures more prominently in the season, but it’s an option they never bothered to explore.
While Shanks dominated the final episode, Daniel Gillies also deserves a golf clap for his steadily improving performance as the season went along. It remains too bad that the writers completely under served his character. Gillies really carried the show (to the extent that it could be carried) for various stretches throughout the season and did so admirably. Gillies can’t do anything about how the character is written. Goran’s dramatic swings in behavior occurred so quickly during the course of the episode that it made him look like he had short-term memory loss on occasion. The final episode was another classic example: Goran is dead set on leaving before the head of the hospital comes in and offers him the job as Chief of Surgery. Naturally, Goran immediately jumps at the opportunity. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have taken the job, but I would have liked to see him mull it over (or at least say he was going to mull it). Still, there is nothing that Daniel Gillies can do about those things. As a result, we should give him a ton of credit for making this show not terrible some weeks. He only upped his actor stock in my opinion.
Ultimately, Saving Hope turned out to be another poorly written, fairly boring medical drama. The twist of using Shanks in this diminished, other world capacity ended up damaging the show instead of adding to the intrigue. That being said, I really believe there is a half-decent show in there with fewer characters and some better editors in the writers room. Sadly, the Americans among us will never get
the privilege to find out what happens with Charlie Harris and Alex Reid. Some of you may feel differently (you have every right), but no one can watch the finale and think to themselves “I’m really glad they marginalized that Shanks guy.” Enjoy season two, Canada!