It’s not the best interpretation of Robin Cook’s novel of the same name, and it likely won’t be the last, but it’s also fair to say that the two-part miniseries Coma, produced by Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott, is neither the best nor worst of the adaptations. Even though the story shoots itself in the foot by throwing in unnecessary conflicts to keep things “thrilling”, it’s never short on talent like Richard Dreyfuss, Geena Davis, or James Woods to help pad out a weak leading lady in Lauren Ambrose. If you can overlook a few glaring plotholes and oversights, Coma holds itself together just long enough to make it to the ending, but the twist broadcasts itself far sooner than it needs to (unlike many of its predecessors).
New legacy medical student Susan Wheeler (Ambrose) gets her surgical rotation off to a rough start after being resuscitated by her instructor (Steven Pasquale) in a swimming accident and investigating inexplicable occurrences where anesthetized patients slip into comas after undergoing standard surgical procedures. Her questions begin raising red flags within the faculty, with some (Davis) calling for her expulsion and others (Woods) push her onwards to find the truth. What Susan finds leads her to a special care facility for coma patients, headed by the creepy Mrs. Emerson (Ellen Burstyn), which might have a hidden agenda at its heart.
Amidst all this, Michael Weston plays a crazed psychotic stalking Susan and whose only reason for existence is to add tension to the first two-thirds of the second half of the mini-series so Susan’s investigation into the coma clinic’s secrets isn’t just a girl looking through files. This represents one of the many poor choices made simply to enhance dramatic effect but which ultimately only make the audience shake their head in bafflement. The fate of James Woods’s character is a similar example of absurdity for the sake of drama, and, while an interesting concept, it’s impossible that so few people would fail to notice the blindingly obvious circumstances that lead up to it and it takes the viewer right out of the story.
DVD Bonus Features
There are none.
"Coma" is on sale October 30, 2012 and is not rated. Drama, Thriller. Directed by Mikael Salomon. Written by Robin Cook, John J. McLaughlin. Starring Ellen Burstyn, Geena Davis, James Woods, Lauren Ambrose, Michael Weston, Richard Dreyfuss, Steven Pasquale.