There are more than a dozen scripted programs debuting in early 2013, including a quirk-free (!?) David E. Kelley drama, Felicity as a 1980s KGB spy and what The CW hopes will become a Cult hit. To help you re-prioritize your DVR, TVLine is offering First Impressions of several of the new shows. Next up on our list…
THE SHOW | NBC’s Do No Harm (Thursdays at 10/9c, premiering Jan. 31)
THE COMPETITION | Elementary (CBS), Scandal (ABC), Suits (USA Network) and Archer/Legit (FX)
THE CAST | Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Alana De La Garza (Law & Order), Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show), Lin-Manuel Miranda, Samm Levine (Freaks and Geeks) and others
THE SET-UP | Pasquale pulls a double shift as Dr. Jason Cole (say it aloud: “Doctor J-Cole”), a neurosurgeon who struggles to contain a dangerous alter ego (dubbed “Ian”) that threatens to wreak havoc on his personal and professional lives. (The rule book: Jason turns into Ian at 8:25 pm every night, and they switch back exactly 12 hours later. So… Jason has been missing out on all the 30 Rock tags?) Rashad plays Cole’s boss, Dr. Vanessa Young; De La Garza is Dr. Lena Solis, a colleague/romantic interest; and Miranda plays Ruben, a lab whiz who labors to help the good doc “hyde” his bad secret. There’s also some business about Jason’s ex/baby mamma and the son he’s not allowed to see.
THE FIRST IMPRESSION | If you were among the 17 people who watched Christian Slater’s My Own Worst Enemy (also on NBC) and can get past Do No Harm‘s similar devices (e.g. Jason and Ian update/taunt one another via iPhone videos), you may opt to take a leap with this unarguably guilty pleasure and cue up the premiere with the most open of minds. Episode 2, I believe, will be the dividing line for anyone on the fence, since it opens with a montage of the men meddling with one another’s lives/livelihoods; it’s meant to be darkly amusing, yet it underscores what a complete and total [expletive] Ian is. Also, I wish the show was shot with some — meaning any — flair to match its far-out theme, instead of being presented as a straight hospital drama, which it is not.
Among the cast, Pasquale makes for a solid series lead and has his best moments as conflicted, brilliant Jason, while the writing finds Ian falling juuust shy of mustache-twirling. The luminous De La Garza ably bears the second-largest cross here, playing a smart woman drawn to Jason despite his intermittent, “inexplicable” bouts of [expletive]ness; their first “date” is quite the nightmare, even more so now that a line intimating that Lena likes it rough has been scrapped. Rashad is charming in a thankless role; Levine offers comedic relief as Jason’s oblivious assistant.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | As a peer (I forget whom) quipped when Do No Harm got assigned its time slot: “An NBC drama about a guy living two lives, airing Thursdays at 10? What could go wrong?” (Sigh. Awake.) Leading out of 1600 Penn (aka the weakest link in the Peacock’s Thursday sitcom block) and premiering opposite fresh episodes of Scandal and Elementary, Do No Harm will surely test the network’s threshold for so-so vitals.