There are worse ways to spend a Friday night than watching CBS’ new supernatural medical drama, “A Gifted Man.” The premise is, we admit, a bit of a stretch (and probably why it ended up stranded on a Friday night) — but the execution is pitch perfect.
“A Gifted Man” has some unmistakable forebears. Patrick Wilson, in his first TV outing, plays Michael Holt, a super-talented neurosurgeon who also happens to be an unpleasant egomaniac (“House” anyone?).
Then, of course there’s the whole matter of Michael’s ex-wife who — SPOILER ALERT! — is a ghost. Yes, really. Though unlike Patrick Swayze (we couldn’t help but invoke “Ghost”) who hung around to protect Demi Moore, Jennifer Ehle’s Anna seems to be tasked with helping Michael to become a better man, perhaps one she wouldn’t have divorced.
Those two things are both the show’s raison d’etre and its biggest hurdles. The premise is complicated and the characters are forced to walk a fine line between camp and cool. But, as supernatural shtick goes, the pilot episode is expertly executed in director Jonathan Demme’s (“Silence of the Lambs,” “Rachel Getting Married”) capable hands.
Wilson is repellent, yet undeniably likeable as the hotshot materialistic doctor who sacrificed any shred of empathy in service of his rep, and his bank account. But pay special attention to Ehle, who most recently played Geoffrey Rush’s wife in “The King’s Speech” and holds a special place in our heart for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennett in the 1995 BBC production of “Pride & Prejudice” opposite Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy.
Another standout is “The Wire’s” Pablo Schreiber (who also happens to be Liev’s half-brother) as a new-age guru who offers to exorcise Michael’s ex-wife from his psyche. He was believable as a drug-dealing Polish stevadore and we totally bought him as a suburban shaman. That’s acting, folks.
In the stunningly-filmed pilot, both Michael Holt — our “Gifted Man” — and the viewer are asked to digest a lot, but we’re willing to bear with it and see if the subsequent episodes can strike the same supernatural-but-not-super-goofy note, retain the production values and keep us interested.