She's able to convince her mentoring doctor (Steven Pasquale of Weeds) that something is rotten in the OR. Ambrose needs his support because everyone else who gets involved in her quest to uncover the truth has a way of disappearing by hook or by . . . well, mostly by hook.
In the 1978 film version, starring Genevieve Bujold and Michael Douglas, the hospital, as in the book, was set in Boston. And Bujold got involved when her best friend (Lois Chiles) went into a coma during an abortion.
Part of the reason Coma still works all these decades later is it takes advantage of what inherently terrifying places hospitals are.
Are you ever more vulnerable than you are as a patient? In an eternal murky half-light, you lie there in gowns fiendishly designed to demean you. Faceless staff rotate in and out, making important decisions about your welfare without consulting you. Is it any wonder you feel like a meat puppet?
It only gets worse when you're under anesthesia. Oh, the horror!
Anyway, back at Peach Tree Memorial, when these otherwise healthy patients slip into permanent vegetative states, the Jefferson Institute is willing to assume long-term care.
Which is awfully generous because it's an incredibly opulent state-of-the-Jetsons facility. At least from the ground floor up. But when Ambrose steals into the basement, she finds a nightmarish bio factory.
And the tour was going so well! Why'd you have to sneak down in the basement, girl?
It's going to take more than a scorecard to tell the good guys from the bad guys in this retelling of Coma. Director Mikael Salomon clamps you into an impending sense of doom and tightens it like a vise.
The cast is distinguished (James Woods, Richard Dreyfuss, James Rebhorn, Joe Morton, and more), but the acting is rather perfunctory. The exceptions are Geena Davis, who puts frost on the screen as a manipulative and unscrupulous psychiatrist, and Ellen Burstyn, who does an even better Dixie depravity than Jessica Lange in American Horror Story as the creepy catacombs keeper of Jefferson Institute.
Yet as bad as it gets in the bowels of that building, they still don't make their subjects (objects?) wear those humiliating gowns. So at least they leave them a shred of dignity.
Coma moves along at such a quick, challenging pace, you won't be watching it, as you do with so much of TV, in a vegetative state.
Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or firstname.lastname@example.org,
or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.