Joshua Jackson betrays the Hippocratic Oath when patients on the table become victims.
The malpractice of Dr. Christopher Duntsch is the subject of a new 8 part series, Dr. Death.
Based on a podcast of the same name, it stars Joshua Jackson as the ambitious, arrogant Texan neurosurgeon who earned his name for injuring and killing patients.
Duntsch was the son of a Christian missionary who had big dreams of playing college football but failed to make the grade. So he set his sights on a medical career. When this series opens in 2012 he is employed by Dallas Medical Center, but there is a stench about having left another hospital under a cloud.
Dismissing their supposedly poor-standards, Duntsch assures patients, “I am the future.”
But staff are not so sure. One nurse (Hubert Point-Du Jour) notices poor hygiene in wearing the same scrubs on consecutive days -eww!- and controlling, risky behaviour in the operating theatre. Surgeries take too long, he fails to heed advice choosing instead to shout down his team.
Alarmed fellow surgeons Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and Randall Kirby (Christian Slater) look closer at their colleague’s practice and how he treats patients on the table.
“It was like he knew what he was supposed to do…” says Henderson.
“Then he did the exact opposite,” adds Kirby.
Duntsch also dismisses the questions of his administrator (Zabryna Guevara).
“I don’t have complications,” he insists.
The surgery scenes -whilst not as extreme as The Knick– aren’t for the squeamish, with plenty of hammering and gnashing of bones, and blood spewing forth. Hey, premium drama doesn’t hold back, right?
Episode two touches on Duntsch’s backstory in extended college and family scenes, with Jackson required to pass for some 10+ years younger. Whilst this is clearly relevant it also bogged the story down somewhat, and suggests the 8 episodes may be a tale too far.
It was refreshing to see Alec Baldwin in a sympathetic, noble role given so many of his performances are so convincingly vain and arrogant. Instead that’s left to Jackson which he delivers in degrees from passive aggressive to frenzy.
Christian Slater, who executive produces, is brash in his determination to end Duntsch’s reign, while the series also features Grace Gummer, AnnaSophia Robb and Kelsey Grammer.
Dr. Death is a cautionary tale which you’ll doubtless want to avoid if you have any impending hospital stay. No wonder the credits include citizen.org/drdeath
Dr. Death is now screening on Stan.