Dr. Death, A Baffling Story of Medical Negligence: The Review

Dr. Death, A Baffling Story of Medical Negligence: The Review

Dr. Death, A Baffling Story of Medical Negligence

Dr. Death might sound like the title of a horror movie in which a wicked scientist puts his mad intentions into practice against the innocent victims of his inhuman experiments, or something like that. However, reality surpasses fantasy, because Dr. Death is the nickname with which Dr. Christopher Duntsch was nicknamed, a neurosurgeon operating in Dallas until 2013 who, in less than two years, mutilated 33 of his patients, crippling for life some of them and killing two. It is from here that the Starz Play TV series written and conceived by Patrick Macmanus takes its title, which traces the facts that really happened a few years ago in Texas through 8 disconcerting episodes concerning the serious negligence of Dr. Duntsch. Available on the on-demand platform of the Amazon Prime Video group starting from September 12th, here's what the Dr. Death series looks like and what we think after watching it.

The disturbing story of Doctor Death

Dr. Death, the TV series created by Patrick Macmanus based on real events, is itself the adaptation of the first season of the homonymous podcast aired in 2018 and hosted by Laura Beil, dedicated to investigating the most egregious cases of medical negligence in recent years. The adaptation in the form of a TV show is spread over 8 episodes, which alternating between more recent events and flashbacks of the past, reconstructs the story of neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch (here played by Joshua Jackson): from his medical studies at the University of Tennessee, passing through the spinal surgery operations that destroyed the lives of many people, up to the prosecution in court that led him to life imprisonment. We therefore see on the screen a manipulator and charismatic Duntsch acting almost undisturbed on his patients with surgical practices that are most often opposed by the rest of the medical staff, although in a period of time between 2011 and 2013 the neurosurgeon continued his activity without particular obstacles on the part of the management of the hospital where he worked, the Baylor Plano.

In about two years, Christopher Duntsch has mutilated, crippled, paraplegic his patients, for a total of 33 individuals including two patients died as a result of complications arising from the interventions of Doctor Death. Only two neurosurgeons seem to have the courage to take matters into their own hands to prevent Duntsch from continuing to harm patients: Dr. Randall Kirby (Christian Slater) and Dr. Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin). only the neglect of what will shortly be referred to as Dr. Death, but even the intentionality of his brutal practices. With the help of Assistant District Attorney Michelle Shughart (AnnaSophia Robb), the two doctors finally have the chance, albeit through a difficult and bumpy path, to bring justice and end Dr. Duntsch's reign of terror.

A curated reconstruction

The chilling reconstruction of the facts in Dr. Death is not only morally disturbing, but provides a portrait of the inhuman neurosurgeon protagonist that requires a good dose of patience during the vision. The figure that is presented during the 8 episodes of the show is that of a man who uses his charisma to convince others of his impeccable professionalism; of a manipulator with an inordinate ego who considers his collaborators (as well as his family) to be close-minded; of a sociopathic narcissist devoted to his own mysterious design that includes killing and mutilation. It is therefore difficult to remain impassive in front of such a character and if the feelings of anger and frustration in front of his actions increase as the series continues, it is thanks to a well-coordinated construction of the same.

Dalla script writing (entrusted to Patrick Macmanus in collaboration with Ashley Michel Hoban and Ahmadu Garba), directed by So Yong Kim, Maggie Kiley and Jennifer Morrison. From the montage that mixes, sometimes without interruption, flashbacks with “present” events, now investigating the cocaine-based youth of Christopher Duntsch and now what seems only apparently a brilliant career as a neurosurgeon. Up to the interpretation of Joshua Jackson, who plays so well the role of the doctor who is as fascinating as he is frightening as to immediately arouse strong feelings of dislike that will be maintained throughout the course of the series. It is not easy to play the part of the villain, but it is probably at this point that an actor's skills are tested the most: Jackson passes the exam with flying colors (you can also appreciate his performance in a series like Fringe, available here for purchase) and makes us understand another fundamental aspect of this story. If it is true that it is difficult not to hate the neurosurgeon on the basis of the fact that in a certain sense "we already know" what his conduct is (the title is already a whole program, but the facts reported in the news speak even more clearly) , it is also true that the charisma that we see emanating from his figure on the screen had to be such that it was truly irresistible to those around him, to the point of believing that he was in good faith for most of his career.

In fact, a fact that emerges from Dr. Death's vision is the ability of the protagonist doctor to instill fear in his subordinates, as well as to arouse admiration and even a feeling of trust in the patients and in the hospital management who entrusted him with such an important task. Each episode therefore does not focus solely on the person, on a figure so devious as to come out of it "clean" for too long, but also on the maneuvers of the bosses, on their myopia, on the strong economic interests of the management, placed in front of the prospect of boasting the presence of a neurosurgeon in your facility and yes, come on, some human error during surgery can happen. A story full of very dark shadows, therefore, which is treated in Dr. Death with what seems to be a reconstruction with attention to detail, respectful of the characters involved (the names of the victims are fictitious, for example), capable of making us hate the character so much. as much as the injustice of a corrupt system at the base.

Dr. Death: on the edge of tension

To undertake this path with us in the chilling story of Dr. Death, two companions of journey fundamentals: Dr. Randall Kirby and Dr. Robert Henderson, who represent not only what might be a glimmer of justice, but also the most tense elements in the series. Theirs becomes a sort of race against time, aimed at preventing Duntsch from operating once again in a new intervention and destroying yet another life: their presence is a continuous pendulum between "Will they make it?" and “This Time They Can Do It” which swings constantly leaving us on a razor's edge. The two then represent the two opposite poles of the approach to such a delicate case. Christian Slater is cynical, sarcastic, energetic, bursts onto the scene with a strong and decisive presence, introducing us to a Dr. Kirby who does not allow compromises and goes straight to the point: a stellar interpretation that we loved from start to finish. Alec Baldwin, on the other hand, is more diplomatic, poised, aimed at obtaining justice "by hook", thus representing a human and sensitive Dr. Henderson, although he cannot help but break Dr. Duntsch's nose. Again, we do not imagine a different interpretation from that made by Baldwin.

Disconcerting, capable of communicating a constant and strong sense of imminent danger, Dr. Death does not however play on "seeing" the pain and the mutilations: the scenes inherent to the surgical interventions do not linger on the bloody details, but show just enough to make the seriousness of the situation understand even to those who know nothing about neurosurgery. There is therefore no kind of voyeurism typical of medical TV series (and this earns the series other points) and what could be seen with the eye, is instead heard with the ears: the tinkling of surgical tools, the tap of the hammer on the bones, the beep of the monitoring instruments. The tension moves inside the spectator to the vibrations of the sounds we hear on the screen, joined by a crescendo of strings used in the scenes in which Doctor Duntsch's frightening coldness is greater.

Dr. Death develops like this without ever exceed, without being over the top, dealing with such a delicate news case with the right tact. It is difficult to say where real facts end and fictional events begin for the purposes of fiction (especially, for example, those inherent in Duntsch's private life, which seem to be yet another receptacle of very dense shadows); some parts will certainly be "extreme" or made more appealing to the public, however all the time it is clear that the intent is to treat the matter with great respect, taking the right measures from shouted tones and mere gossip. Dr. Death is therefore certainly a TV series that we recommend watching: for its sensitive and almost detached approach to the real news events around the case of medical negligence that starred Christopher Duntsch; for the ability to convey strong emotions given by the impeccable interpretation of the protagonists Joshua Jackson, Christan Slater and Alec Baldwin; for the lack of excessively bloody scenes and the strong suggestion given instead more by editing, interpretation and sound, than by visual elements with a macabre background. To see, with the inevitable involvement that this series entails. Dr. Death, broadcast on the American Peacock from July, will instead be available in Italy on Starz Play from September 12th.

Powered by Blogger.