Picks and Pans Review: Oliver Sacks: the Mind Traveller
He was the model for Robin Williams's character in 1990's Awakenings. Now author and neurologist Oliver Sacks stars as the affably inquisitive host of his own four-week series (debuting Aug. 25). As his 1985 book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat proves, Sacks is fascinated by bizarre medical disorders. Future episodes focus on some color-blind Pacific islanders and an autistic New England artist. But the opener finds the good doctor in Seattle, mingling with a Cajun-born chef named Danny Delcambre and his friends, all victims of a rare congenital condition known as Usher's syndrome. Deaf since birth, most are also slowly going blind. It's not only the group's uncanny ability to communicate that intrigues Sacks (as their vision deteriorates, they rely less on sign language and more on what he calls the beautiful language of touch) but also their undimmed optimism. "I'd want my sight back," says one plucky young woman, "but I wouldn't want hearing." Why? "I'm deaf. I know my life is deaf; the people I know are deaf."
Bottom Line: Insightful medical mystery tour