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TV Review: A Gifted Man

Despite some amazing talent, this drama fails to go beyond its sentimental premise.
By Jessica Johnson |

The quantity of talent both in front of and behind the camera of A Gifted Man is pretty staggering. Unfortunately the big screen actors, director and writer struggle to turn an overly sentimental premise into compelling television.

Michael Holt (Patrick Wilson) is an accomplished neurosurgeon that caters to celebrities. The trouble is, he's also an egotistical jerk, the kind that forgets his assistant's (Margo Martindale) birthday and after being reminded, fails to even wish her a happy one. One evening, he runs into his ex-wife Anna (Jennifer Ehle) and awakens a bit of his inner nice guy. Things take a turn for the eerie when he tries to phone her the next day and his told that she died two week earlier. Michael's siter Christina (Julie Benz) is thrilled that Anna is trying to contact him from the beyond and hooks him up with her friend Anton (Pablo Schreiber) who specializes in this sort of thing. While Michael's practical side wants Anna gone, he can't ignore the fact that he still has feelings for her and likes having her around.

The pilot episode of A Gifted Man is directed by Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme and it's no surprise that it looks beautiful. The casting is also incredibly impressive, with Ehle, in particular, making for a sweet and sympathetic specter. The problems with A Gifted Man lie in Susannah Grant's (Erin Brockovich) script. Even in the hands of the intensely likable Patrick Wilson, Michael is a really hard person to root for and he spends so much of the pilot running between different stories that we never get a chance to see how this was ever a man someone like Anna could be in love with. Additionally, the procedural nature of the show appears a little flimsy. Anna tells Michael that she has many doors in her life that have been left open and she needs his help to close them. However, the only "door" he closes in the first episode is to use her password to unlock her work computer so that her colleagues can get to her records. As cosmic missions go, that seems a little weak. The rest of the running time of the episode is Michael attending to three different patients in your standard medical drama storylines. A Gifted Man never properly utilizes the amazing toolbox of talent it has at its disposal because it never digs deep enough into its characters, instead simply busying them with menial tasks, making it a massive disappointment.

A Gifted Man premieres Friday 7pm on CBS.

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