February 8, 2013



DO NO HARM:  Thursday 10PM on NBC

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and the production of episodes for the regular season: a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads. The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting, and even story. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.’

Previously… on DO NO HARM:  Remember Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?  Like that.  At precisely 8:25PM each night, brilliant, compassionate Philadelphia neurosurgeon Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale) transforms into Ian Price, who abuses women–including co-worker Lena Solis (Alana De La Garza)–gets into drug deals and is an altogether nasty piece of work, only to transform back at exactly 8:25AM the next morning.  For a while, Jason was able to control the change with medication, but that’s worn off, and he has no choice but to share lives with Ian while he tries to figure out how to destroy him.  Jason’s big, and very justified, worry:  that Ian will interfere with Jason’s ex-wife Olivia (Ruda Gedmintas) and young son.

Episode 2:  One of the annoying things about the Do No Harm pilot was that it was nothing but mysteries, and the first regular episode, written by Consulting Producer Lisa Zwerling and directed by Jeffrey Reiner, did nothing to clear any of those up.  Aside from a few spare hints about a research project Jason worked on in a previous job, we still know nothing about how Ian came into being, why he and Jason switch places at exactly the same time each day and night, or why Ian is such a bad guy.  More importantly, we can’t get a handle on just how evil Ian is supposed to be, and thus how seriously we’re supposed to take him–much of the time he’s just a prankster (renting a yacht with Jason’s money, buying expensive clothes), swapping sarcastic video messages with Jason on their shared smartphone, but sometimes he appears much more sinister.  All that happens in this episode, apart from Ian creeping out Lena some more, and Jason saving a sweet little girl’s vision, is Jason becoming embroiled in Ian’s cocaine buy and threatened with being shot in the head, a dilemma which Jason escapes with ludicrous ease by imitating Ian for about 30 seconds.  This, Jason’s friend Will (John Carroll Lynch) tells him, marks progress, but since we have no idea what’s going on, we can’t comprehend just why that’s so.

It’s quite possible that this will turn out to be a Season Finale review for Do No Harm as well as a Pilot + 1, because the show debuted last week to the lowest rating in history for a regular season scripted show on NBC, CBS, ABC or FOX.  In any case, the series appears clearly doomed, barring some miraculous ratings turnaround.  When hardly anyone tunes in to watch a series premiere, you can’t really blame the show’s quality, since they haven’t even seen it to judge–this was a dual failure of conception and marketing.  (Although given what a muddle the show’s premise is, one has to feel some sympathy for the Marketing Department at NBC that had to sell it.)  Considering that the very similar premise of My Own Worst Enemy, with Christian Slater playing the dual personality in a spy universe, also flopped just a couple of seasons ago, it clearly would have required particularly high quality to get viewers to watch this time around, and that was hardly the case here.  The show’s drab visuals and the fact that Steven Pasquale, while a skilled actor, has no star value at all certainly didn’t help, but probably weren’t the keys to the show’s failure.

If Do No Harm went on long enough, presumably at some point it would start making sense, but it’s unlikely to have that chance.  Chalk it up to another toxic programming decision at NBC.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  With Suits Airing on USA, Not Even The 3rd Best Show In Its Timeslot


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."