A&E, Sept. 3, 9 p.m. ET/PT |
Coma won't make you doze off, nor will it cost you any sleep-and I mean that as a compliment. This two-night adaptation of Robin Cook's pulpy thriller, previously made into a 1978 movie that included a brief appearance by dashing newcomer Tom Selleck, is a perfectly calculated piece of entertainment. Handsomely produced by the team behind The Good Wife, it's just suspenseful and clever enough to keep you happily intrigued-right on past ludicrous plot holes that would sink a less nimble movie, then onto a few chillingly creepy moments. Lauren Ambrose plays Susan Wheeler, a med student puzzled by the high percentage of surgery patients who wind up in irreversible comas at her hospital. They're shipped off to a high-security, high-tech permanent care facility where Ellen Burstyn guards the door. With her jaw clenched as if in premature rigor mortis and her hair teased into a white puff of static, Burstyn is giving an over-the-top performance, and she's terrific. By comparison, Ambrose seems comatose for much of Coma: It's hard to stand out when you're cast against Richard Dreyfuss, James Woods and Geena Davis as powerful higher-ups whose colossal egos may or may not camouflage evil intent. But by the end Ambrose comes into her own, fighting for her life while figuring out what's going on in these corridors of horrors. I could have done without the psychotic hit man chasing her-who on earth hires a psychotic hit man?-but Coma is a fun four hours.
Bravo, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |
This belongs squarely-or pseudo-hiply-in the tradition of Gossip Girl, a fashionista fantasy. Seven attractive young women hang around Manhattan art galleries, mostly as interns and assistants. Two of them, including one named Chantal, operate a space on the Lower East Side. They all work hard at being catty, as the reality format demands, but the snideness is forced. I bet they feel lost, vulnerable and fake, like knockoff purses left in an auction room.
COMMENTS? WRITE TO TOM: firstname.lastname@example.org
YOU'VE GOTTA SEE THIS ...
AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL
Tyra Banks has revamped the show-and the wannabes are college students. CW, Fridays.
Season finale for the verbose but well-acted drama. Anchor Jeff Daniels faces off against boss Jane Fonda. HBO, Aug. 26.
UP TO SPEED
An online travelogue hosted by the highly eccentric, highly informative Timothy "Speed" Levitch. Hulu.com.
Antiwar protests greeted the launch of NBC's Stars Earn Stripes, the Monday-night reality show that throws celebrities into military exercises. But let's be fair: If the show turns war into an extreme game, its mission of raising funds for veterans' charities is laudatory. The stunts are a confusing mix of bullets and blowups: Apocalypse Now on the scale of Wipeout.
DOWN AND DIRTY
YOUR CHARACTER HAS A RUGGED CHARM. DO FEMALE FANS COME UP TO YOU A LOT?
I fly mostly under the radar, which is great. It's funny, though: Growing up, I wasn't popular; I was a nerd who had braces and glasses.
YOU PLAY A FOREMAN. HOW ARE YOUR REAL-LIFE HANDYMAN SKILLS?
My job in college was building sets for plays. And my best friend just bought land in the Catskills, and I'm going to build a house with him there.
IS IT FUN GETTING DIRTY ON THE SHOW?
Yeah, I'm crawling through the dirt of Alberta all day. Afterwards, there's a ring of dirt around my bathtub. I'm so used to being dirty now that it's weird when I'm clean!