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Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The new storyline does have its problems and it seemed as if the story dragged a little too long., December 1, 2012
This review is from: Coma (Mini-Series) (DVD)
Back in 1977, Robin Cook wrote his first published novel "Coma", a New York Time Best Seller that would be made into a film a year later by Michael Crichton.

While the novel and film may have been forgotten over 30-years later, producers/filmmakers Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner", "Alien", "American Gangster", "Black Hawk Down") and Tony Scott ("Man on Fire", "Top Gun", "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3″) who both produced the "Andromeda Strain" mini-series for A&E television network in 2008, would return in bringing the "Coma" storyline for a mini-series for the cable network in 2012.

Directed by Mikael Salomon (cinematographer for films such as "The Abyss", "Backdraft", "Hard Rain") and co-written by Robin Cook (author of "Coma") and John J. McLaughlin ("Black Swan", "Hitchcock"). The film would star Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under", "Wanderlust", "Can't Hardly Wait"), Steven Pasquale ("Rescue Me", "AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem"), Geena Davis ("Beetlejuice", "Thelma & Louise", "The Fly"), Ellen Burstyn ("Requiem for a Dream", "The Exorcist", "The Wicker Man"), James Woods ("Casino", "Videodrome", "The Virgin Suicides") and Richard Dreyfuss ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Jaws", "American Graffiti").

The mini-series will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in October 2012.

"Coma" revolves around medical student Susan Wheeler (portrayed by Lauren Ambrose) who is starting her first year at Peach Tree Memorial Hospital, which was built by her grandfather. Prior to starting her job, a pool mishap had her nearly killed but she was rescued by Dr. Mark Bellows (portrayed by Steven Pasquale), a man she finds out is her boss and Chief Surgical Resident at the hospital.

While a nice man prior to knowing he was her boss, Dr. Mark Bellows is a very serious doctor but is also having a sexual relationship with Head of Psychiatry, Dr. Agnetta Lindquist (portrayed by Geena Davis), a woman who can be cold, demanding and very protective of the interest of the hospital.

When one of Susan's patients who was healthy is found to be in a coma, she starts to become curious when she realizes that other patients who were operated on, are now in a coma and are being transferred to a mysterious place known as the Jefferson Institute.

But Susan suspects something is wrong, so she gets her friends involved by giving her access to records that she should not be looking at. And then goes to the Jefferson Institute to do some snooping around. But is turned back by Mrs Emerson, Head of Operations at the Institute who tells her that she needs sufficient clearance.

But unfortunately, those friends end up getting fired for bad performance (without being warned) but she begins to suspect that is because she had them access files for her. Unknown to her is that someone has put cameras all over her apartment to spy on her.

She goes to her mentor, Professor Hillside (portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss) at Atlanta University and tells her suspicion of patients who were fine, now being put into comas. She also tries to tell her boss, Dr. Bellows about it but everyone thinks she is wasting her time.

One day while walking home, a man assaults her, puts a bag on her head and tries to choke her and leaves her with a message that if she doesn't stop her nosing around, she will be like the patients at the Jefferson Institute.

Alarmed at what happened, she tells her boss Dr. Bellows who picks her up. From that moment, the two begin having a relationship but the following morning, he sees the notes and records that she has been keeping on the coma victims and begins to believe in her. Meanwhile, he receives a text message from Dr. Lindquist asking if he had sex with Lauren.

But all of a sudden, Peach Tree Memorial tries to have Lauren fired for digging into confidential records, but only with the help of Dr. Theodore Stark, Chief of Surgery at Peach Tree Memorial Hospital, is she able to retain her job. But also secretly being given the permission by Dr. Stark to continue her investigation.

What will Lauren find out about the missing coma patients during her research?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

"Coma" is presented in Widescreen (1:78:1) anamorphic widescreen. This is one of the few drama series on television where a lot of the scenes are shot outdoors, to there is good natural lighting and the series does look good on DVD. I didn't see any major noise or compression artifacts. For the most part, the mini-series does look very good on DVD.

As for audio, the series is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and the series is primarily dialogue-driven. Dialogue is clear and understandable and there is not much use of the surround sounds until you get to the more action-related scenes towards the end of the mini-series.

The show is presented with English, English SDH and French subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"Coma" does not come with any special features.

EXTRAS:

"Coma" comes with a slip cover case.

JUDGMENT CALL:

Back in 1977, when Robin Cook wrote his novel "Coma", at the time it was looked at something futuristic and the thoughts of organs being a big business would probably never cross anyone's mind back then.

But over 35-years later, the possibility of the events that take place in the storyline is not so-farfetched as other countries have shown problems of people being kidnapped and their organs being sold to the black market, especially now as children have become targets for organ trafficking. But what if families are willing to be paid off by a hospital for their loved ones who are comatose, strictly for their organs?

Ethically, I'm sure that some people may find it farfetched but when Robin Cook wrote the novel, that "what if?" seemed as a tale of sci-fi, but today, perhaps these things can happen. Maybe not in the United States but other countries, if not underground clinics.

Suffice to say, the concept that is featured in "Coma" is rather interesting and to see how far a medical board would go to ensure the financial well-being of their hospital. And for families who are give the financial compensation for their loved one's organs, because they think that their loved one is in a coma and not coming back, is too hard to turn down.

But what if these comas are purposely caused by the hospital? And literally providing the bodies for a major institution ie. organ farm.

For "Coma", the series not only brings in a more modern take to the old '70s storyline and the fact that author Robin Cook is involved, it helps that the storyline is tweaked for today's audience with special effects and also having a talented cast with veterans such as Geena Davis, James Woods, Ellen Burstyn and Richard Dreyfuss.

The storyline of the "Coma" mini-series is different from the novel and film. The antagonist has changed and also different is how the series ends in its final minute.

As a mini-series, there was more storyline to explore the characters of Dr. Susan Wheeler and Dr. Bellows, but also add more action in the storyline as Susan has a stalker who is bent on killing her, showcasing how far the corruption of the hospital extends to the outside world, including the police force. But the addition of Dr. Agnetta Lindquist also adds to the storyline, and adds to list of possible antagonists in the mini-series version.

The acting is well-done from the veteran actors. Geena Davis does a magnificent job playing the cold and proud Dr. Agnetta Lindquist, Ellen Burstyn as the head of operations of the Jefferson Institute is mysterious and Richard Dreyfuss and James Woods play characters that you are not sure if you can trust, especially knowing how the novel and film ends, you just don't know who is friend or foe this time around.n For the primary characters, Lauren Ambrose and Steven Pasquale do a good job in their primary protagonist roles. Actress Lauren Ambrose does a very good job of playing the curious Susan (although compared to the film, the original Susan was becoming unstable, while the mini-series Susan was trying to be a sleuth), as Steven Pasquale is playing the intelligent, serious Chief Surgical Resident. But similar to Susan, Dr. Bellows is also tweaked for the mini-series compared to the novel and film. By series end, you are just not so sure about him anymore.

The use of technology and the fact that the film is set in 2012 during a more technological and modern time also helps with making "Coma" seem possible, as opposed to the '70s where technology was too far ahead to even think of these situations actually happening.

As for the DVD, unfortunately there are no special features but overall picture quality and audio is good as expected on DVD. The storyline is presented as a 160-minute film and not broken off as two special episodes.

My feeling about "Coma" is that its original storyline was an interesting escape and farfetched to be almost like a mystery/horror type of film. But it worked for the '70s as the film used paranoia as a way to make audiences feel uneasy.

For this 2012 mini-series, because of technology and the fact that 35-years after the novel was written, organ trafficking is a problem in other countries and even organ donors is still a problematic situation in America. There is just not organs to go around in certain countries and the system is not well-established in many regions around the world.

But what if organ farms were created. People who are put into a comatose, so when the time is needed to use their organs, the organization can profit from it. It's an interesting take on Robin Cook's original novel but what if a hospital was conspiring with a major organization to provide bodies for organ farming? Yes, it is unethical and farfetched for it to happen in America but in other countries, is it plausible?

If "Coma" was a season long series, I could understand the additions of characters and action sequences to keep up with the bulking of its storyline but it also becomes a distraction. The story felt as if it dragged on a bit to incorporate more acts to show how cold and calculating a hospital board would go in order to protect their interests.

Overall, I did enjoy "Coma" the mini-series, for its modern take on Robin Cook's original '70s novel and the 1987 film adaptation. Characters and storyline were tweaked in this modern medical thriller to incorporate a much more different storyline and something new for those familiar with the original storyline. The new storyline does have its problems and it seemed as if the story dragged a little too long. But yet, it does feature a cast of veteran talents and incorporating a fascinating modern storyline much different than the original film or novel. Sure, "Coma" may not be a great mini-series, but it's still enjoyable and worth checking out.
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