Sci-Fi That’ll Put You In A Coma
Coma, a 1978 hospital sci-fi thriller, has been resuscitated and remade for a two-night TV “event” on the A&E Channel, starting on September 3rd, 2012 and concluding on whatever day follows that. (Sorry – I only use ancient civilization calendar apps.)
Sporting an ensemble cast (Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Burstyn, James Woods, Geena Davis, and Steven Pasquale, whoever the hell he is), Coma is described by some television hack who really knows how to chump a marketing opportunity: “Lauren Ambrose stars as Dr. Susan Wheeler in this thriller about a medical student who discovers that something sinister is going on in her hospital after routine procedures send more than a few seemingly healthy patients into comas on the operating table.”
If you’ve seen the original, you’ll know what I mean by B-O-R-I-N-G in all caps. The TV show/movie, based on a Michael Crichton story, deals with the unsavory business of reluctant organ donors and the black marketing thereof. Here’s how it goes down…
You can check into Boston General, but you can’t check out. Even if you go in for emergency paper-cut surgery, you’re more than likely to have a reaction to the anesthesia and slip into the movie’s title. Once you’re in that blissful vegetative state, your body is moved to the state-of-the-art Jefferson Institute where they specialize in taking care of comatose patients unable to pay their medical bill.
Even though there were more-than-average incidents of people “dying” at Boston General, when the subtly sexy Dr. Wheeler’s girlfriend Nancy goes in for a little slice ’n dice, she ends up in a coma. When Wheeler investigates with the help of her boyfriend, Dr. Bellows (so named because he seems to yell a lot), they find out there’s some not cool medical monkey business going on.
The patients were intentionally over-gassed, their “useless” bodies taken to Jefferson, and their valuable innards removed, cleaned, packaged and sold on the organ Black Market (the inner guts version of a rummage sale). The scene where Wheeler goes into the Jefferson’s showroom and sees hundreds of naked bodies suspended horizontally while their vitals are awaiting to be extracted is one of sci-fi’s neatest shock moments.
When Dr. Wheeler takes her findings to the hospital’s head cutter and sips some comforting brandy offered by the devious doc, she starts to get all cramp-y and pass out-y. Good thing the doctor is there to put her in the “coma” ward and perform the gutectomy himself.
Things get blankie-grabbingly intense as Dr. Bellows races to save her. Who cares – I wanna know what happened to the rest of that brandy. Kinda clinical (sorry) at times, the corpses show more emotion than the doctors. Call me practical, but bodies suspended by wires awaiting organ harvesting appealed to me.
Consult your primary care physician before viewing.