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Unlike the typical medical drama, Saving Hope delves into the spiritual world, with a comatose doctor (Michael Shanks) roaming Toronto’s Hope Zion Hospital as a spirit and helping the week’s medical patient. Meanwhile, his fiancee (Durance) and co-workers are faced with the impossible task of figuring out what to do next.
The Canadian drama didn’t have the splashiest launch, averaging just 3.1 million viewers and a 0.7 rating in 18-49 in the U.S. last week. Even so, Durance isn’t worried. “It’s a sleeper show. It’s a very simple story, but yet I think it’s powerful,” the actress tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Durance spoke to THR about the low ratings debut, the show’s specific look and what viewers can expect in coming weeks.
The Hollywood Reporter: You must have seen the ratings for last week’s debut. What do you think was the reason for its weak launch?
Erica Durance: I think it’s a little bit of [lack of awareness]. In the summertime, it’s always hard to introduce new series; everyone’s ready for that in the fall. I wasn’t particularly worried because I knew what summer shows were like and I also look at this show as an old school pilot in the sense that you don’t have $10 million to crash a plane or have a huge media launch. It’s a sleeper show. It’s a very simple story, but yet I think it’s powerful.
THR: This story does have a unique spin on the medical drama genre, with one of the main characters in a coma and helping the week’s patients ..
Durance: It’s a little different for [Charlie, played by Shanks] every week. It’s a sense of not particularly that in the sense that he’s finding stuff out from [the patients] and it’s also just giving another perspective or another comment on life and what your beliefs are. Our whole purpose for this show is that it’s based on a love story. We use the hospital setting as a backdrop to bring in a lot of that high-stakes drama that you need. The idea of what would you do to bring the person you love back to you and would you change everything you believe in and throw that all out the window? Maybe something more faith-based.
THR: Why was it important to stick with this supernatural element for the show?
Durance: It always has to be a part of the show in whatever way the producers choose to keep that there. That’s one of the hooks about the show — at least specifically in the season. That’ll manifest itself potentially differently.
THR: The look of the show is also different, more soft focus and flares. Those decisions were clearly intentional ..
Durance: It was. It was to create a more specific, surreal look to the show but the flares are also an indication of potential spirit life to show that there’s another layer. I know the [producers] have been playing with it and I know with some of the feedback, people didn’t understand what it was and it made them uncomfortable.
THR: Where is Alex headed in future episodes?
Durance: This whole season is about her journey to try to bring him back, trying various methods and trying different ways to reach him. She even goes so far as to try sexual stimulation and stimulation of the senses. They say that people actually do that with coma patients. She gets caught in a very compromising position which is fuel for a nice moment of levity. You see her trying to juggle both worlds and everything slowly starts to unravel for her.
THR: There is also a triangle introduced in the first episode between Alex, Charlie and Joel (Daniel Gillies). How does that progress?
Durance: Everyone keeps calling it that. There’s a little bit of that going on because of leftover history and what that relationship provides for her is somebody she’s known forever that she can cut through all the crap with and say what she wants to say. If she wants to be angry, she can be angry with him. You get to see that side of her and their relationship and he has unresolved feelings for her and he’s trying to find opportunities to talk about it which is never good when somebody’s in a coma.
THR: What has been a scene that you filmed that sticks out?
Durance: One of my favorite scenes is dealing with Charlie’s ex-wife Dawn and we really went head to head. It was high octane, high emotion into such a crazy experience. There’s all sorts of roadblocks that she has to deal with, whether it’s herself or her past coming in. She’s quite the superwoman, I gotta say.
Saving Hope airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
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