Erica Durance: Saving Hope Is Not a Sorrowful Ghost Story But a 'Wonderful Love Story'

Erica Durance is ready to play a real superwoman.

As the female lead of NBC’s Saving Hope (premiering tonight at 9/8c), she plays Dr. Alex Reid, a surgeon whose world is rocked when Dr. Charlie Harris, her Chief of Surgery and husband-to-be (Stargate SG-1‘s Michael Shanks), is left comatose after a car crash.

The wrinkle — and you knew there had to be one — is that as Charlie’s corporeal form lay in a hospital bed tethered to tubes and monitors, his “spirit” still walks the halls of Hope Zion Hospital. Meaning, he can only watch helplessly as his fiancée juggles her job with the near-loss of her love and the assorted options <presented to her regarding his comatose state and pie-in-the-sky treatment therapies.

Oh, and did we mention the cocksure old flame (The Vampire Diaries‘ Daniel Gillies) who now works alongside Alex?

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“It’s been a real, real roller coaster,” Durance tells TVLine of her first series regular TV gig since leaving The CW’s Smallville. (Previously, she guested on shows such as Harry’s Law and Charlie’s Angels; on Saving Hope, she’s also a producer.) “Most shows work up to a point like this, and we started at this just high-octane place. And so, as an actress it’s been very interesting to try to find different levels and different ways to experience this huge emotional stake.”

Lest you think that things will be too maudlin and melancholy as Alex visits with unresponsive Charlie, and since he can only look on as she struggles, Saving Hope will regularly revisit the couple’s happier days, affording insight into just how connected they were.

“What I love [is] that you don’t always find her in this sense of cataclysmic despair,” Durance shares. “They do these wonderful flashbacks to her and Charlie’s relationship…. You get little vignettes of fun, quirky, light stuff going on, and then you have the main course of what’s happening with me. I think they’ve tied it together really beautifully.”

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As for any “mission” Charlie might have as a handsome spirit, Durance won’t divulge details, though early episodes indicate that he will interact with other in-limbo patients. And don’t be surprised if he finds ways to make himself known to those who are up and about, maybe even giving the occasional “chill” to Alex, who until now has only been a believer in that which science says is real.

“She starts out in this kind of black-and-white, ‘This is how I see the world’ place, and as the season goes along you start to see moments where she starts to slowly believe that there are other things potentially out there,” Durance previews. “It’s almost like she feels his presence — or does she? Does she know that he’s there? Is he with her?”

All of which fuels “an interesting and wonderful love story, this trying to connect between the two worlds — intermingled with many, many other things that are going on” in the show’s medical storylines.

That said, don’t hold your breath waiting for Charlie to slide a penny up a door a la that famous Ghost story. “Well…,” Durance says with a chuckle, “they havent introduced that yet!”

Will you be checking out Saving Hope tonight?

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