Saving Hope “Ride Hard or Go Home” and “Pink Clouds” Finale Review

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!

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  • Mjbingham

    Go to hell TV equals you bastars just like NBC woudn’t know a good quality show if it came up and bite you’ll in the ass. Do me a favor, just leave this amazing show alone. It’s no longer on NBC so you critics got your wish. Just be quiet, ok!!

    • Anonymous

      Yes, my evil plan has finally come to fruition!  Muahahahahahaha!!   

  • ptjackson

    You know, I’m going to miss our discussions….

    So, first, I found out that I could view the online episodes by visiting the CTV website, so those in the US with fast enough internet will still be able to get our fix until the dvds come out. My friend in England does a bit torrent download, but I don’t do that.

    I think we finally figured out what role the psychiatrist would have – Charlie needs some heavy duty counseling now that he is seeing dead people…

    I know we disagree on many things, and I will respectfully disagree with you about these last two episodes, which I feel are better than the first 11, and indicative of where this program can go. BTW, just for the record, it is the number one program on CTV in Canada.

    I will certainly agree with you that finally they gave Michael Shanks enough material to actually work with and he was as great as always.

    Yeah, we all knew that Dr. Goran would not be leaving, but they did not really show him hesitating – I mean, it was a process for him to decided to leave, so for him to stay should have also been a process.

    I am so done with Maggie – the hospital “easy girl” as they used to call them in my day. I mean, really? Jumping from one guy to the next seems to be her main talent… pun intended.

    Ah, and Alex – the romantic in me loves the relationship she has with Charlie, her steadfast belief in him, and boy is he going to need that in season 2. I just hope they don’t let him push her away!! If they do, well, I’ll have to give them a stern talking to! LOL….

    • Anonymous

      I tend to agree with you that the last two were the “best” of the show’s season.  Especially when you consider Shanks’ performance in the last episode.  

      The fact that it is the number one show on CTV is absolutely staggering to me.  I understand we are talking about two different groups of people, but to be at the polar opposite end from our neighbors to the north really requires some investigative journalism.  Are Canadians just naturally supportive of all shows set in Canada?  It seems like something they would do.  Very kind people, those Canadians.

      As for the psychiatrist, I would watch the scenes from season two featuring him and Charlie.  Shanks would absolutely blow that guy off of the screen.  No matter the content of their conversation, the scene would be laughable because that guy doesn’t belong on the same show as Shanks, let alone the same screen.

      If this show was more popular, there would be a lot of discussion about Maggie Lin being one of the worst characters on TV.  

      The way that they have handled Gillies was kind of like a running joke for me.  It’s like they never had enough time to devote to the evolution of his character.  Also, I have issue with him even wanting to be Chief of Surgery.  As far as I can remember, he never has expressed any sort of ambition beyond wanting to do the most awesome surgery of all-time.  Given how much he loves the OR (he mentioned how much in the penultimate episode), it doesn’t seem like a natural fit for him to go into a more administrative role.  All the paperwork is really going to cut in to his time in surgery.

      • ptjackson

         You forgot polite – Canadians are very polite. 8-)

        BTW, I forgot to mention that for once in my life, I figured out that Charlie’s “friend” was not real before it was revealed. This is huge for me, so pardon my dance of joy over here in the corner!

        Good point about Goran not being the paperwork type – we’ll see how long he stays in his position, but it does set up conflict with Charlie, who will want his job back….. 8-)

        • Anonymous

          Seriously, I love Canadians.  I’ve only met three in my life, and they are probably in the top 7 of nicest people I have ever met.

          Good job by you picking up on Charlie’s friend being dead.  I didn’t think she was dead, but I knew something was fishy.  She just didn’t fit.  Now we know why.

          I could see a scenario where Charlie getting his job back is an arc late in next season.  Obviously, the major arc of the beginning of the second season is the Charlie and Alex relationship and how Charlie’s “Sixth Sense” affects their relationship.  

          • ptjackson

             Oh, I meant no disrespect to Canadians – I think they are great myself. And, they will say the same thing about themselves! not to mention my deep admiration for some of their actors…..

            I totally agree, the second season will be spent with Charlie fighting to get “back to normal” whatever that is, and if it is even achievable!

        • Anonymous

          By the way, I just went to CTV’s website, and their primetime lineup tonight just made my head explode. The Voice, Anger Management, The New Normal, Criminal Minds.

          Those things don’t go together!

          • ptjackson
            • Anonymous

              Good for them, but what does it say about the state of television drama in Canada when a Big Bang repeat can best the top rated drama on any given night.  Repeats best new shows all the time here, but it wouldn’t happen to NCIS or whatever our top rated drama is.

              • ptjackson

                 I don’t think it is fair to compare Canada and the US. And, I also don’t think it is fair to compare a TV program that has been on for years and is very popular with an established audience, with one that is new and still establishing an audience. 

                Please consider that the ratings for Saving Hope were increasing for the 3 episodes before NBC abruptly pulled it from the schedule to show REPEATS of Law and Order. Sorry, did not mean to shout, but I will never forgive NBC for that. How hard was it to show the final two episodes? Yes, I watched them online, but my computer monitor is much smaller than my TV.

                • Anonymous

                  I don’t think it’s fair to compare either.  I’m not even bagging on Saving Hope or anything else with my previous comment.  I just find it curious that a repeat of an admittedly popular show would beat a new version of Canada’s #1 drama for the 2011-2012 broadcast year.  There has to be something wrong with that.

                  Also, I checked the stats on the REPEAT situation: Had NBC run the show on 9/6 and 9/13 as originally scheduled (although the DNC convention was always going to preempt it), they would have missed out on approximately 8 million viewers (AGT did a 10.39 that night).  If they had aired them on the proposed plan of September 1st and 8th, they would have gotten trounced by college football and no one would have cared.  

                  Did they handle the pulling poorly?  Absolutely.  Does NBC handle everything poorly?  Pretty much.  At least now it’s on a network where the show can experience some success, and it will be treated well because it’s run by Canadians.

                  • ptjackson

                    *shrug* Not sure if there is something wrong or not. Clearly though CTV is ok with it! 8-)

                    Totally agree that NBC handled it poorly. Did it really matter to them if they showed Law and Order repeats on Sept. 8 and 15 (Sept. 1 is a non starter due to Labor Day anyway)? I won’t even complain about the switch from Thursday to Saturday, although some more notice would have been nice – even though it did not happen, people did not know about it, so I suspect they planned to pull it all along anyway. Sounds like it made no difference what they aired. In my little world, respect is important, and NBC showed a total lack of respect for its audience.

  • Anonymous

    I loved Stargate when it first premiered and stuck with it because of the talent and charm of Michael Shanks. He was one of my teenage crushes, and I was excited that he’d be in a new show. But through the majority of the season of Saving Hope, Michael Shank’s character was just flat. I wasn’t sure if Michael had somehow lost his talent charm. In the finale, I was very happy to see he hadn’t lost it at all. It was just the fault of the writing that excluded him from all the action. As soon as he go to actually interact with the rest of the cast, his character and the show picked up.

    I agree it was a mistake to relegate the most skilled actor to mostly standing on the sidelines watching and commenting on everyone else. They could have at least given him meatier, more emotional side plots with the comatose or dead patients.

    The second season actually seems promising now. I do think it could have been a much better show if they’d had Charlie wake up sooner. At least there will be a second season from Canada I can watch.

    • Anonymous

      Like I said, in sounded like a good idea in theory, but the writers weren’t smart enough to execute it in a way that utilized Shanks effectively consistently.  He blew everybody off the screen in the finale.  

  • Jgross225

    Personally, I thought your critique was dead-balls on.  Here’s how bad that show was (and I labored through every episode just to see Charlie wake up, for all that’s holy!  Just wake up!)–There are no fan fiction writers who would even touch it.  None!  It was convoluted and full of just awful characters, and as you pointed out, it was too often nonsensical.  Actually, fan fiction writers could have only improved on it…

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