'Saving Hope': A ghostly doctor drama

Michael Shanks as Charles Harris in "Saving Hope."

Michael Shanks as Charles Harris in "Saving Hope." (Credit: NBC)

THE SHOW "Saving Hope"

WHEN | WHERE Thursday at 9 p.m. on NBC/4

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Not to be confused with Fox's quirky comedy "Raising Hope" -- seriously not -- this is a Canadian hospital drama with the requisite hot docs, and a rather surprising departure from that age-old formula: One of the doctors is a ghost, or sort of.

Dr. Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks, who played Daniel Jackson on the "Stargate SG-1" franchise) is a chief of surgery at Hope Zion Hospital, and very full of himself. He's engaged to his chief surgical resident, Dr. Alex Reid (Erica Durance, Lois Lane from "Smallville"), when tragedy strikes on the night of their wedding. After a car accident on the way to the nuptials, Harris lapses into a coma, nearly dies, then at the hospital has an extended out-of-body experience. Wandering the corridors, he now sees the world as others do, and has certain revelations. Meanwhile, a new surgeon joins the hospital. But Joel Goran (Daniel Gillies, Elijah from "The Vampire Diaries") and Reid have a history.

MY SAY Summer placeholders like "Saving Hope" have one simple little job. Hold the place. Hold it until the big, fancy, expensive and very hyped dramas arrive in the fall. That's it. Simple.

But every now and then one turns up -- almost invariably from our neighbors to the north -- with loftier ambitions. Like other Canadian dramas, such as "Rookie Blue" and "Flashpoint," "Hope" is modeled out of particularly sturdy, comfortable and reliable material -- in this case, the hospital drama with its predictable A-B-C story rhythm garnished with just enough soap and sex.

Nevertheless, there is a brain at work here, and a twist that "Hope" nearly pulls off. The image of Harris wandering the corridors in a tux and loosened tie is, of course, a silly one, but his Meredith Grey soliloquies have just enough pathos and insight to make you almost forget that.

BOTTOM LINE A sober, intelligent, placidly paced drama as only the Canadians can make. "Saving Hope" is better than probably even NBC realizes.

GRADE B+

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