Review: A&E's 'Coma'

Coma — more of a techno-thriller
than A&E and the Scott brothers’ 2009 sci-fi miniseries
The Andromeda Strain — stars Lauren Ambrose
as Susan Wheeler, a medical student training at fictional
Peach Tree Memorial.

When one of Susan’s swimming buddies ends up
in a coma after what should have been a routine surgical
procedure, she does some research and finds
that the hospital has had an unusually high run of
coma patients over a short period of time. Her concerns
largely fall on deaf ears at the hospital, but the
sudden disappearance of hospital staff that helped
Susan gain access to classified files has her worried.

She confides in Bellows, who is initially lukewarm
to Susan’s conspiracy theories, but quickly
becomes taken by the ambitious medical student.
Bellows, though, is romantically involved with Dr.
Agnertta Lindquest (Geena Davis), the head of psychiatry
at Peach Tree Memorial and Bellows’ ticket
to a prestigious position on the hospital’s ethics

Susan’s research takes her to the Jefferson Institute,
the pre-eminent coma-patient care facility,
run by steely Mrs. Emerson (Ellen Burstyn). Unable
to gain access into Jefferson, Susan confides in the
hospital’s chief of staff , Dr. Theodore Stark (James
Woods), whose mentor was Susan’s grandfather.

Once in the facility, Susan soon realizes that her
fears regarding the coma patients are just the tip of
the iceberg as she starts to unwind a mystery that
puts her own life in danger.

The miniseries’ top-notch cast, which also features
Richard Dreyfuss and Joe Morton, enhances an intriguing
thriller that improves on the 1978 theatrical
film of the same name. While the storyline drags
along at times, the two-part, four-hour Coma miniseries
is an entertaining Labor Day watch.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.