Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pilot Review: Chance

Chance (Hulu)
Premiered October 19

It stands to reason that Hugh Laurie’s new series would once again feature a title that refers not to any of its actual definitions but instead happens to be the last name of its medically-qualified protagonist. It’s only been four years since the highly popular “House” went off the air, but it’s clear from the start in this new show from Hulu that this is a different character altogether that we’re seeing from Laurie. Dr. Elden Chance is so much nicer than House ever was, but he’s also much more hardened, introducing each of his patients by the miserable events that have affected their lives and sent them his way for care and treatment. Some of their stories are particularly harrowing and off-putting, and Chance seems truly at a loss as to how to truly help them despite his best efforts. His foray into the world of furniture fraud is especially peculiar, especially since it’s something that feels so far down the list of crimes that no one could possibly come after him for it, and it introduces two of the show’s most magnetic characters, Ethan Suplee’s D, a role made for the often intimidating and gruff actor, and Clarke Peters’ Carl. The wisdom spoken by D, specifically in relation to the fight that he started, was mesmerizing. This show is populated by great actors, including Diane Farr as his ex-wife. The two who really got me, however, were Gretchen Mol from “Boardwalk Empire” and Paul Adelstein from “Prison Break,” as Jaclyn and Raymond Blackstone, two people who both possess multiple personalities in different senses of the term. Jaclyn is endlessly fascinating, and there’s a lot more to her than it initially seems, and Raymond knows exactly how to cover his tracks and stay one step ahead of those things that might cause him any trouble or inconvenience. I think this show has some interesting things to offer, but given the enormous amount of television I’m already watching, I’m not sure it has a clear hook to get me started as a regular viewer right now.

How will it work as a series? That’s what’s most puzzling to me, since while D seems like an understandable regular player, I can’t comprehend how an entire season (or series) can deal with unraveling Jaclyn while Raymond stays in the picture. It’s likelier to be a show that just goes wherever its plot takes it, but I’m not sure how well that’s going work or if this show is going to be too all over the place.
How long will it last? Hulu commissioned this show with a two-season-order from the start, which means that twenty episodes are already in the cards. Reviews have been pretty good, and I think this will just come down to the question of whether this is the kind of fare that Hulu wants to have defining its brand. Something tells me this is exactly it.

Pilot grade: B

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