‘Pure Genius’ May be Too Smart for Its Own Good

Review of the TV show, "Pure Genius."
Head-smart James (Augustus Prew) and heart-smart Walter (Dermot Mulroney) (CBS)
At first glance, CBS' Pure Genius appears to be yet another high-tech drama where condescending characters use expensive technology that doesn’t really exist in an “aren’t we smart” approach while winking at the camera (and it is, at least at first) but if you can stomach past the first few minutes, you’ll find a better show rising to the surface.

With today’s cutting edge technology in real life, it is hard to know for certain which aspects of this fictional medical drama are made up and which could feasibly happen in real life. I was lost for the first 15 minutes or so as the billionaire James Bell (Augustus Prew) lead veteran surgeon Dr. Walter Wallace (Dermot Mulroney) around the fictional Bunker Hill Hospital showing off all the bells and whistles. The place treats some of the rarest diseases and performs the most difficult procedures known to man at no charge to the patients. James is like the Willy Wonka of medical care making promises to patients that he can’t keep and gets giddy with excitement with every new case. His biggest flaw is his ego followed by his lack of connection with his staff. He doesn’t even know some of their names.

Walter Wallace couldn’t be anymore different as he is one who thinks more with his heart. He spends half of the pilot stating how he is only visiting the facility and won’t become a permanent fixture there, but we know better. Walter is “yin” to James’ “yang” and together they make a better team working together than they can working separately. As the episode continues, the show gets better. Unfortunately, the show tries to cram in too many storylines into one episode making all of them feeling incomplete. The show would be better if it focused on just one or two stories at a time.

I was initially impressed when one scene that featured a husband asking that the doctors pray with him over his wife before trying out a new experimental procedure. It was nice to see a positive Christian presence in the show. But then it turns out, this “saint” has a history of beating his wife, so then I was disappointed by the show’s portrayal of Christians. I understand that the show wasn’t trying to make a statement against Christians in general, but it still felt mean-spirited and unnecessary. Without going into too much detail, the woman was pregnant, had a cancerous tumor and had some anxiety issues as well. I still don’t understand how her husband’s behavior figured into the mix. There are at least two other stories featured in the pilot that also ring a little false as well. It’s as if the writers said “good enough” without finishing the scripts.

At the end of the episode, a twist is revealed which give promise that this new partnership between the two main doctors could make this a great new show to watch. Pure Genius features a fairly large cast, but in the pilot, they don’t get much screen time to fully develop their characters and are for the most part forgettable. Hopefully the show will improve in the coming episodes.

Pure Genius airs on Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. on CBS.

promote my blog