PURE GENIUS Review: “Hero Worship”


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Well, another week, another impossible patient case for James Bell and the Bunker Hill staff to solve. What is this week’s dilemma? A patient with vanishing lung syndrome, and an athlete who can’t walk even though his legs are perfectly fine – sounds interesting.

But before gets to any of that, let’s have an opening scene of Nina Cooper, a nurse barely introduced in the last episode and minimally fleshed out in this one, doing face-painting for one of the young patients and holding Bell’s hand in the guise of doing some kind of nerve treatment to take away his headache. Because she is clearly only here for one purpose, and that’s for Bell to move on from Dr. Brockett.

It just frustrates me how much the writers are not even trying. If Nina’s going to be the love interest for Bell, our protagonist, shouldn’t she be interesting as well? Throwing out dialogue about how she likes to during a one-minute scene where she promptly exits and doesn’t appear again for the rest of the episode is doing the bare minimum as far as character . I feel bad for actress Alexis Krause; she’s on a network show, yet she’s given so little to work with.

I do have to give the show props, though: when Dr. Brockett has to have Bell sign something when Nina is doing that nerve treatment to his other hand, the look on Dr. Brockett’s face – pretty much the definition of “Okayyyy, weird, but whatever” – plus James’ awkward stammering as she walks away, combined with the fact that Brockett’s obviously not jealous at all and just treating it as another bizarre Bell thing, made me laugh.

Anyway, back to the medical side of things: vanishing lung syndrome and conversion disorder.

"Hero Worship -- Coverage of the CBS series PURE GENIUS, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Claudia Guerrero is a victim of cadmium contamination in the soil around her home, the result of a microchip factory built on that ground years before. The factory belongs to none other than a man named Douglas Prescott, who Bell idolized as a kid for his pioneering advancements with the microchip.

Prescott is played by David Paymer, who has been on, among many other shows, Cheers and The Good Wife. I have to assume that, judging from his past work, if given more material he could have played Prescott as something more than just an arrogant jerk corrupted by the assumption of his own brilliance – sort of Steve Jobs-lite, at least from what we’ve seen of Jobs’ portrayals on screen. As it is, we see the inevitable downfall of hero worship as Bell has to accept the fact that his childhood hero is not, in fact, a good man. The shattering of perceptions is always a nice angle to play; I just wish they’d done more with it. Especially with the title of the episode, it was telegraphed from the start that Prescott wouldn’t be the good guy.

In related news, Dr. C is in charge of curing Claudia’s case of vanishing lung syndrome, which is not going well, as they’re not able to make a synthetic lung to replace Claudia’s rupturing one. We see Dr. C start to lose her cool, and that’s something of real note in this series. Dr. C has been the serene center of Bunker Hill since the beginning of the show; last episode she spent all of her time comforting everyone and making sure things were running smoothly. Now she’s starting to crack under the pressure – and who steps in to help her but Dr. Wallace.

"Hero Worship -- Coverage of the CBS series PURE GENIUS, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Forget Bell, I want a show about these two. They are probably the most professional and intelligent members of the Bunker Hill staff, and seeing their relationship grow from mutual admiration to friendship has been one of the best parts of the show for me. They connect on a level that Bell and Dr. Wallace never have, even though that relationship is supposed to be the focal point of the series. Bell is too detached from Dr. Wallace’s own experience, and vice versa, for there to be much of a connection. I would argue the real focal point is the relationship between Dr. Wallace and Dr. C.

Also, isn’t it just nice to see a man and a woman interacting on screen in a relationship purely based in friendship and professional admiration rather than romance? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but seeing something different is very refreshing; I’m glad their particular relationship doesn’t fall into the When Harry Met Sally… school of thought.

Another performance I’d like to praise is Carmella Riley as Cindy Coleman. Cindy’s son, Evan Coleman, is experiencing conversion disorder in that he can’t walk, even though his legs are perfectly fine. Dr. Brockett and Dr. Strauss, with Angie’s help, use virtual reality therapy to take Evan back into his memories and relive the trauma that caused his condition, thus freeing him from it. Through every scene, Riley gives a great performance – no overacting or underacting, as can sometimes happen on this show, but very solid work that makes us feel for this mother who is caught between an emotionally abusive husband and a traumatized son, with past events that have obviously scarred her deeply. I didn’t always feel for Jim Coleman’s yelling, but I did feel for Cindy and her silent tears; her conversation with Dr. Brockett and Dr. Strauss over coffee was an episode highlight for its emotional resonance.

"Hero Worship -- Coverage of the CBS series PURE GENIUS, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

If the theme of the episode is hero worship, I suppose the message is that the entire Bunker Hill team are heroes. But I’m glad the spotlight was shone on Dr. C at the awards ceremony; after an entire episode of her beating herself up over Claudia, it was nice to see her get the recognition she deserved, again, with a push from Dr. Wallace.

Three episodes left. At this point I’m just wondering how it’s going to end, especially with no chance of a Season 2. Nina and Bell get together, only to have Bell start lapsing into severe GSS? That’s my prediction – if that actually happens, I called it!


Season 1, Episode 10 (S01E10)
Pure Genius airs Thursdays at 10PM on CBS

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Cailin is a screenwriter and an aspiring writer. When not writing, she’s busy convincing random passersby that Firefly was the best show ever, converting her co-workers into Whovians, and waiting for the next season of Sherlock.
Follow Cailin on : @sherlocked1058
Keep up with all of Cailin’s reviews here.

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