‘Dr. Death’ by Peacock: A TV Review

This eight-part drama centers on a criminally dangerous neurosurgeon, his systemic failures, and Joshua Jackson.

Jaws made it impossible for generations of viewers to visit the beach, which is significant since most people enjoy the beach.

Peacock’s Doctor Death, also known as the Jaws of spine surgery, is a miniseries that makes you afraid to go to the hospital. It’s less transformative than the fact that most people don’t like going to the hospital.

The Bottom Line Engaging for a few hours but carried the rest of it by a strong cast.
Dr. Death is an eight-hour affirmation about every fear and insecurity you have about the surgery. It is more like shooting fish into a barrel than a pressure SCUBA tank through a fish’s mouth, after five episodes of Dr. Death, which should have been cut at this length. It’s still watchable and persuasive in its paranoia-enhancing portrayal of the medical-industrial complex. This season is the best yet for NBC Universal’s Dirty John franchise.

Patrick Macmanus, a Wondery podcast scribe, and his team adapt Dr. Death is about Christopher Duntsch (Joshua Jackson), who was a Dallas-based neurosurgeon accused of killing multiple patients and inflicting dozens of injuries in an unrelenting reign of terror, ineptitude, or a combination of both. After a string of medical misadventures, how was Duntsch able to keep getting patients, keep receiving operating privileges, and keeping getting professional references. Did this ex-researcher, who claimed to have a Ph.D. and an MD in his field, really prove that he was as brilliant as his colleagues?

Duntsch’s fellow surgeons Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin), Randall Kirby (Christian Slater), and Michelle Shughart (AnnaSophia Robb) are all plotting to bring Duntsch down.
Dr., It is far more effective in breaking down institutional failures that enabled him and protected him, mostly in order to make a profit, sometimes in the name of the state of Texas’ complete disinterest in regulation.

Duntsch is a person who has been questioned about the mystery of causality. How can we stop future Duntchesches? — I can understand why Macmanus, and his company, didn’t want to follow a linear storyline. It’s like a poor patient of Duntsch, and it all gets hacked to bits, jumping from 2007 to 2009, 2011 to 2011, and back in the early ’90s when Jackson convincingly portrays a 20-something Jackson. Dominic Burgess is a semi-intentionally funny character in the younger scenes, playing Duntsch’s dim-bulb friend Jerry. But, he becomes the heart and soul of the show as Jerry.

Also, the series covers Duntsch’s criminal proceedings from 2016 and 2017. Scenes that use a courtroom to review the tragic nature and meaning of events and what you should have been capable of figuring out. With the addition of Jackson, who is encased with latex, I was reminded a lot of Robert John Burke in the early scenes in Stephen King’s adaptation Thinner. This 1996 makeup work should not be compared to their 2021 talent. My instinct is that two stories — Duntsch’s misadventures and Kirby’s indignant investigations — would have been more clear and less repetitive if they were told on separate tracks.

Duntsch will end up latex-coated and dead-eyed, and Kirby and Henderson are our loyal heroes. Maybe the confusing storytelling is intended to frustrate the viewer. We want justice; we want answers. What we get instead is a web of obfuscation.

The series’ first half builds an audience’s fury and horror. This is largely due to Maggie Kiley as the director rather than the writer. These blundered surgeries are very carefully handled. Sometimes they aim to make you sick with blood and viscera. But more often, the sound design — the slurping of fluids and the heavy-handed hammering on bones of tools and implements — gets under your skin. With the disturbing score by Nick Chuba, Leopold Ross, and Atticus Ross, it’s a dark soundscape that you only notice when things are getting worse. It’s such a bleak story, one that will leave you cringing and looking away from your TV with some frequency, that I was especially appreciative of the two episodes directed by increasingly confident actress-turned-director Jennifer Morrison, who throws in more than a few cheeky notes of humor, including a full sequence parodying the opening credits to Dallas.

They are also performing at a higher level than the mechanical script. Jackson portrays Duntsch with chilling consistency. He is so dedicated to his character’s brilliance, infallibility that it doesn’t matter if anyone else understands him. You sometimes find yourself believing. Baldwin and Slater may not have more than one character to play — Baldwin gets “mature” set against Slater’s wisecracking, more inept Duntsch — but their co-stars clearly enjoy playing off past roles, be it Baldwin’s iconic portrayal of God Complex in Malice, or Slater’s role as a degree-flaunting villain in Dear John 2. In the second half, Robb and Grace Gummer, Duntsch’s former physician’s assistant, assume control. Each actor finds a way to play an underwritten role.

I didn’t feel like Dr. Shughart’s character attempts to convince Kirby and Henderson that they can explain neurosurgical basics to her in a way that will keep the jury interested. But no one took the same steps for the screenwriters to explain legal basics. Maybe it’s just bloat. This is not the latex bloat Jackson wears.

Dr. Although Death has been bolstered by its stellar cast; it is still Peacock’s best drama production. However, with more narrative focus, a tighter six-hour version might have been enough to create a God Complex.