Thursday, July 15, 2021

REVIEW: 'Dr. Death' - Henderson and Kirby Present Their Case Against Duntsch to the Texas Medical Board in 'Ain't No Bum'

Peacock's Dr. Death - Episode 1.02 "Ain't No Bum"

Henderson and Kirby try to strip Duntsch of his medical license. Duntsch joins the football team.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Peacock's Dr. Death.

"Ain't No Bum" was written by Ashley Michel Hoban and directed by Maggie Kiley

Dr. Christopher Duntsch never showed these incompetent or sociopathic tendencies as a surgeon until he moved to Texas and started operating on patients. That's the notion that everyone wants to believe. They want to give him the benefit of the doubt. They don't want to chastise his behavior and immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion. He has the same amount of inherent respect as anyone who went through medical school and completed all the training to get to this point. Mistakes happen. Every doctor must reckon with that reality. That's not Duntsch though. He refuses to admit that as true. Moreover, he doesn't wish to engage with the social aspects of the job. Not every problem can be fixed through surgery. Cutting people open may only do more harm. He doesn't see it that way. He will plunge his tools in deep believing that he is always right. That's the mentality he has always operated from. That's how he commands himself in the world. That has always been apparent too. People were simply refusing to see it until these questions are asked. Even then, it takes them seeing his actions up close and analyzing his behavior to realize that something must be done before more harm can be done. It's played as innocent behavior when Duntsch is simply in college determined to make a career out of playing football. He believes he has to work harder than anyone else in his family in order to succeed. That amount of effort should bring success. He believes he is entitled to that. He isn't good at football. Sure, this story may also reveal that he is bad with instructions and actually following through with all the actions. He understands things mentally. When putting them into physical action, he doesn't know how his body fails over and over again. It's frustrating to him. But again, he is coddled by people who are willing to give him the time to fail. He is given numerous chances to succeed. People help him make sense of what he needs to do. It's more than just words on paper. He also projects a sense of ownership over those thoughts and ideas written out. He sees the benefits of stem cell treatments. But he is incredibly possessive over it all too. It's something that marks his brilliance while others refuse to accept it due to their dumb moral arguments. He's not the only physician making progress in that area. In fact, Duntsch is doing no meaningful research in this regard. Instead, he is simply bungling multiple surgeries. He convinces people that these procedures are necessary. A person or machine telling him that he has made an error must be wrong. The people in the operating room voicing things don't do so out of rejection of Duntsch's skills or a condemnation of his abilities. They are simply alerting the team to an evolving situation. It must be corrected to ensure the surgery is ultimately a success. In the end, screws are placed that may inflict more harm. That energy looms over the entire story. Henderson and Kirby understand they must take drastic action. Henderson does so within the limitations of the system. Kirby lambasts the idea that the state medical board is a viable enough entity to stop Duntsch and protect the people. They say they serve in that role. They don't follow through in their actions. Duntsch may stop operating for a couple months. It's not long before he finds a new hospital willing to let him in. It was only a matter of time. The system can't just casually forget about him. What he is doing is incredibly serious. It must be stopped. It can't be supported or encouraged. He feels protected to make these mistakes and harm anyone who trusts him to operate. The show can be blatantly obvious with some of these larger points. Duntsch's time in college especially makes that clear. This isn't an incredibly subtle series. That is disappointing to an extent. The acting remains solid even though it's glaringly obvious the people in the college-set story - including Joshua Jackson - are all too old to realistically portray this setup. That's annoying while the pacing suggests consequences on the horizon but only by dealing with them just to fill out enough hours to create a sustained limited series. That's the problem with adaptations sometimes. The podcast story filled out a certain amount of space. The series version tells the same story. Hopefully, it comes with the same details and nuances. The formats are different though. It's already clear that things move too slowly to be all that effectively compelling to the audience to keep watching to see the twists and turns as they occur.