September 24th, 2011
11:29 AM ET
If you watched only the first ten to 15 minutes of CBS’ “A Gifted Man” and then changed the channel, it’d be understandable.
Dr. Michael Holt, played by Patrick Wilson, is a talented New York City neurosurgeon so dedicated to his profession that he’s seemingly failed to develop interpersonal skills. He doesn’t wish his assistant (played by Emmy winner Margo Martindale, yet another asset to this lauded cast) happy birthday, fires a tech who failed to deliver to his standards in the OR, and is brusque with his sister.
None of that makes for a likeable character…until his ex wife walks into the room. And then we realize his sister was right: He is a lot less of a jerk when she’s around.
If you’ve seen any of the promos for this show, you knew as well as I going in that his ex would be a ghost. I suspected Anna (Jennifer Ehle) was the apparition we’d been waiting for when he bumped into her outside of a restaurant, and grew more confident when it became clear they’d been married. I was still a little intrigued that that was how “A Gifted Man’s” creators chose to introduce her.
Anna’s not a spirit, to the good doctor, at least. In his eyes – and thus in ours - Anna is as flesh and blood as the patient on his operating table. Holt’s “I’m talking to a ghost” aha moment doesn’t come until much later, a few scenes after Anna explains how she’d been killed. (That bit of exposition also explained the sounds of a car crash and that ball bouncing around in the opening scenes.)
This set-up made for a few unexpected comical moments when Holt’s caught chatting with Anna by a nurse he’d been short with, which to her looked like Holt was walking around talking to himself.
But I’m not sold on how quickly he got over his ghostly ex strolling into his life – one minute he was convinced something was wrong with his brain and explaining that he can’t be irrational, but in the next seemed to accept his new spirit-filled life. Anna, by the way, is awfully chatty for a ghost. I kept asking myself why he didn’t just try to ignore her when she kept popping up with more lines to say and grins to give.
I suppose it wouldn’t’ve suited anyone to drag out his understanding of and acceptance of what Anna is, though – it’s clear that she’s supposed to guide him to start using his gifts for good. We’ve already seen him, thanks to an instruction Anna gave, helping out the patients of the free clinic she left in disarray due to her death.
The pilot ended on a supremely cheesy note (the white light surrounding Anna in the doorway - really?) but I found myself willing to watch this to see where it goes.
If you caught “A Gifted Man” last night, what did you think?
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