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Herc’s Eyelids Grow Heavy During A&E’s COMA Miniseries!!

A&E’s two-night miniseries remake of the old ‘70s Michael Douglas movie about a med student trying to learn why so many patients at her hospital are lapsing into comas, the frequently silly “Coma” comes to us from John J. McLaughlin, the writer behind the 2005 Tommy Lee Jones cop-cheerleader comedy “Man of the House” and Darren Aronofksy’s “Black Swan.”

The first night is decent, and ends with a strong cliffhanger, but the second night – which focuses on a chase involving a murderous, microphone-rocking mental patient --  is a real eye-roller. I stuck with the mini to the end, but found myself afterward wishing I had not bothered.

I will say the project boasts a solid cast, topped by the fabulous Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”) and featuring Steven Pasquale (“Rescue Me”), Joe Mazzello (“The Social Network”) and Geena Davis (who long ago worked with “Coma” producer Ridley Scott on “Thelma & Louise”), plus James Woods, Richard Dreyfuss and Ellen Burstyn.

The New York Times says:

... has the rickety feel of a cheap summer novel, with lots of implausible actions and plotlines that aren’t tied together very well. Most of those coma patients seem to have remarkably docile relatives who don’t ask many questions (lazily explained away by fat hush-money checks). And for a smart medical student Susan is remarkably dumb, doing her Nancy Drew thing without alerting the authorities or making sure that someone trustworthy …

The Los Angeles Times says:

The good news about "Coma," A&E's four-hour miniseries adaptation of the Michael Crichton film airing Monday and Tuesday night, is that it's much better than its previous miniseries adaptation of the Michael Crichton book "The Andromeda Strain." The bad news? It's still not very good. …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... So little effort is invested in character development that when one major figure is revealed to be the evil brains behind the operation of inducing comas in surgical patients, our response is something akin to "tell me something I don't already know." … For the most part, the crucial element of the unknown is missing from the A&E miniseries, reducing the film to a moderately engaging whodunit with expansive credibility gaps in plot and character. …

The Washington Post says:

... excels when it falls into nail-biting territory. The story isn’t earth-shattering, and the filmmaking isn’t especially imaginative, but the production is a solid piece of suspense. …

The Detroit News says:

... Unfortunately, the ride is pretty good right up until it isn't. Things get gory, but more importantly they get incoherent. In the end, "Coma" needs a crash cart. …

The Las Vegas Weekly says:

... packs two hours of story into four hours, which means it’s full of go-nowhere plot digressions and half-hearted red herrings. Beneath all the filler lies a halfway decent medical thriller, although it’s consistently undermined by the choppy pacing, cheesy dialogue and indifferent acting. …

The Boston Herald says:

... still has enough scares to give you a case of the shakes. …

Variety says:

... In a sense, strong ratings for "Andromeda Strain" -- reuniting its producers, including Ridley and the late Tony Scott, as well as director Mikael Salomon -- all but foreshadowed "Coma's" fate, as the latest project follows the same formula, bloating and dumbing down the relatively spare, science-based source material. … isn't worth losing sleep over.

9 p.m. Monday & Tuesday. A&E.

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Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 3, 2012, 6:52 a.m. CST

    Think i'll give it a miss

    by gb

    Yet was pleasantly suprised with the new Dr Who. First ?

  • After that terrible Salem's Lot TV movie he by all rights shouldn't be allowed to touch a genre property ever again. I've tried to follow his career ever since A Far Off Place, which was one of my favorite films growing up, but after that you have Hard Rain, Christian Slater on jet skis... and a whole lot of schlock.... It's like Akiva Goldsman. That guy hasn't a fucking clue about the tonality of genre filmmaking, the fans and critics hate ALL of his work, but he still manages to get tons of work thrown his way. 'Salems Lot is one of my favorite Stephen King novels and he went and made a PIECE OF SHIT movie out of one the greatest horror novels ever written.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 7:49 a.m. CST

    How Herc felt of this

    by Himbo

    Is how I felt about their "Andromeda Strain" miniseries. Big waste of time. After the AS, I would not even be tempted to spend a bit of time on COMA.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 7:50 a.m. CST

    The chief of surgery did it in the original

    by David Duchovny

    I'm sure they will change it in this remake so that's not really a spoiler. This has suck written all over it anyway. Plus, I'm in a bad mood. Have to wait 8 months for another Breaking Bad. In the meantime, shit like this is all that's on.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 8:23 a.m. CST

    I love the 1978 movie

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Genvieve Bujold in her prime, young, pre-jowls Michael Douglas, taut direction from Michael Crichton and an eerie Jerry Goldsmith score (which, cleverly, doesn't enter the film until the halfway point). Plus, early screen appearances by Tom Selleck and Ed Harris (dude didn't even have hair back then). Great film, and just recently released on a nice-looking Blu-Ray.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 9:49 a.m. CST

    So looks like Tony Scott's publicity stunt jump won't help the ratings

    by RedBull_Werewolf

    He probably should have thought that one out first

  • ...Spose it'as a different studio

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 11:58 a.m. CST

    The same guy who wrote Man of the House wrote Black Swan?

    by Dharma4

    DAFUQ -Namaste-

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Thanks for the warning.

    by kabong

    I wonder if they have any plans for "Looker" and "Runaway."

  • My god they used to make such great SMART miniseries and movies.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 12:27 p.m. CST

    sorry that should be WASN'T

    by tangcameo

    I gotta profreed mur.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 2:04 p.m. CST

    There for the cast, but expectations are lowering...now.

    by Bill C.

    And for some reason the updated and faintly reptilian bodysuits are weirding me out.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 2:31 p.m. CST

    Gina Davïs has not aged well

    by jbs9200

    Gina Davïs has not aged well. and Steven Pasquale always has that look like you've just explained the workings on an internal combustion engine to a 4 year old. . Unfortunately, there is no good nudity in film/tv any more or I might watch just for the chance of Lauren Ambrose nude.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 3:42 p.m. CST

    Well, Herc, to quote Han Solo

    by Marc Cerasini

    "I had a bad feeling about this" when I saw the previews.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 4:07 p.m. CST

    I'll take the 1970's Coma movie over Cabin In The Woods.

    by Quake II

    What a complete watse of time and 3 bucks (saw it at the cheap theater). You AICN drones raved about Cabin for weeks and acted like it was the greatest horror film ever made. It was a B-grade cheese-fest ala Army Of Darkness, Waxwork and Night Of The Creeps (all of those are actually BETTER movies btw). The digital monster effects were really bad, regardless of the budget and the entire movie looked like it was shot on a set (even in the "woods"). I guess they pump fun gas into the theater during Butt-Numb-A-Thon because Cabin In The Woods barely deserves a rental much less A+ ratings.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 4:25 p.m. CST

    no PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE?

    by Tigger Tales

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 4:39 p.m. CST

    Could it be any worse than their remake of Andromeda Strain?

    by Cash907

    Because Christ was that god awful.

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 4:56 p.m. CST

    ...plus James Woods, Richard Dreyfuss and Ellen Burstyn.

    by keyserSOZE

    Really? The three most legendary actors in the cast are basically an afterthought?

  • Sept. 3, 2012, 9:27 p.m. CST

    ...I never saw the andromeda strain mini series.

    by Norman Colson

    was it good. i heard the original show kicked ass... wonder if i can netflix it?

  • Sept. 4, 2012, 2:33 a.m. CST

    the original Andromeda Strain...

    by tailhook

    Has and always will be a Science Fiction classic. Was directed by Robert Wise(Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still, ST:TMP, editor of Citizen Kane) and the movie just absolutely owns. And yup.. you can Netflix it.

  • Sept. 4, 2012, 10:15 a.m. CST

    pity

    by Rakesh Patel

    Andromeda Strain just dragged, sounds like this will as well. dammit. geena davis, man she was hot in the long kiss goodnight.

  • Sept. 5, 2012, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Yeah, the second part dragged thanks to Mr. Microphone.

    by Bill C.

    I could deal with everything up until Maniac du Jour grabbed the mike, but from then onward it was just one long grind waiting for all the loose ends to be inevitably tied up. It wasn't horrible, it was just...not memorable (I missed the very end merely by looking away from the TV, and wasn't inclined at all to even record the rerun of it just to make sure they weren't pulling some shit with Steven Pasquale's character).