NBC's latest drama entry, Do No Harm, stars theater vet Steven Pasquale as Dr. Jason Cole, a successful, mild-mannered Philadelphia surgeon who has successfully been keeping his alter-ego at bay for years — until now. Every night at 8:25 p.m. he turns into Ian Price, a playboy with a penchant for drinking, drugs, women, fighting, and doing everything he can to ruin Jason's life. This means sabotaging his personal relationships, spending all of his money, and getting tied up with a nasty criminal element. Here's what else you'll want to know before tuning in to the premiere (Thursday, Jan. 31 at 10 p.m. on NBC):
Actors You'll Know: While lead Pasquale has plenty of theater on his resume, plus seven years as Sean Garrity on FX's firefighter drama Rescue Me, it's clearly Phylicia Rashad whom you'll recognize first. Clair Huxtable! Alana De La Garza trades in her sensible lawyer suit (she did five years as A.D.A. Connie Rubirosa on Law & Order and Law & Order: LA) for scrubs as Jason's coworker/love interest, Dr. Lena Solis.
You'll Like It If: You're intrigued by the modernized Jekyll/Hyde premise.
Top 5 Reasons You Might Want to Watch: You like a good dual character to keep you on your toes. You're really into all those complicated psychological issues. You're excited they set a TV show in Philly. (Hometown pride!) You're psyched to watch Ian's systematic destruction of Jason's personal property. You still miss Freaks and Geeks. (Former Geek Samm Levine plays a hospital assistant.)
5 Reasons You Might NOT Want to Watch: You like your complicated dramas to last more than a handful of episodes. (This one's on NBC. They don't have a very good track record.) You're NOT interested in watching the destruction of personal property. You're creeped out by the general rapey vibe Ian gives off. Your DVR is really backed up already and this might not last very long anyway (see: reason one). You have sleep to catch up on.
Love It, or Leave It? Love it if you're into watching some pretty nuanced acting from Pasquale. (Even if it's not explicitly stated, we know exactly who he's playing, and when.) Leave it if you have, like, better things to do. It's a laundry show. Save it while you're folding your whites on Sunday afternoons.
Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean
[PHOTO CREDIT: Patrick Harbron/NBC]
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A massive hit never ends at its own conclusion for better or worse. Lost Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland The Blair Witch Project and other pop culture milestones spawned plenty of imitators of wavering quality that trickled on to screens until the phenomena tapered off. Joyful Noise the new film starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton is one these auxiliary creative endeavors a direct descendant of the cheeky drama/comedy/musical hybrid Glee. But instead of teenage issues and pop covers Joyful Noise swaps in familial struggles gospel tunes and a sizable serving of Christian faith. The combination results in a movie that lacks the jazz hand energy of Glee but packs good-natured laughs to keep someone awake for its two hour duration. More "noise" than "joyful."
Mere minutes after the passing away of choir leader Bernie Vi Rose (Latifah) inherits the position—along with a serving of negative vibes from Bernie's wife G.G. (Parton) who was hoping to take the job herself. The new responsibility is only the beginning of Vi Rose's troubles as she attempts to balance her rebellious daughter Olivia's (Keke Palmer) raging hormones her son Walter's (Dexter Darden) Asperger's syndrome her husband's absence during a military stint and her own old school God-faring ways. Hardships are whipped into further chaos upon the arrival of Randy G.G.'s rambunctious horny grandson who shows up at rehearsal with an eye on Olivia and undeniable vocal skills. Randy's rock and roll edge is readily embraced by the group but even with the national gospel championship on the line Vi Rose isn't ready to toss tradition aside.
Joyful Noise is a mixed bag sporadically entertaining when director Todd Graff (Camp Bandslam) lets his two commanding stars flex their comedic muscles or belt soulful tunes. Latifah and Parton can do both with ease—Latifah has a natural charm while Parton essentially fills the "kooky Betty White" here—but instead of letting the two fly Graff breaks up the action with overwrought drama and bizarre side character stories. The script injects a lot of ideas into the picture—loss of faith modernizing ideologies coping with tragedy sexuality under the eye of God—but every tender moment is fumbled. A gut-wrenching conversation between Vi Rose and her autistic son should have weight and the actors do their best but the material doesn't service the emotional complexity of the scenario. Instead it opts to cut to a musical number. Another sequence involving the overnight demise of another character is even played for comedy even when it causes one woman to question her beliefs.
Thank God for the musical numbers which have enough energy to brush the flimsier moments under the rug. The Glee-inspired pop tune covers (Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror " Usher's "Yeah"—both tailored with religious modifications) aren't nearly as interesting or powerful as the straight-up gospel songs. But unlike the tunes Joyful Noise doesn't have rhyme or reason. A mishmash of played out character stereotypes narrative cliches and enjoyable but erratic music the movie feels more like a cash-in than it should. Latifah and Parton are a sizzling duo but the vehicle built for them is a clunker. As Vi Rose might say the only way to have a great time at Joyful Noise is to believe. Really really hard.