Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Lazarus Syndrome (1978)

This film was made as a stealth pilot for a TV show, and that's probably responsible for a couple of its weaknesses.  The sub-plots that are raised, but then never developed, let alone resolved for instance.  Those were probably intended to be grist for the series.

The basic set-up is that an over-worked, over-stressed middle-aged journalist has a cardiac event and is admitted to hospital.  He proves to be a difficult patient, questioning his doctor's decision that the best treatment is to eat better and exercise more.  Once he accepts that this is the right outcome for him, he becomes more trouble, accusing the head of surgery of being a pill-popper and encouraging a fellow patient - who is in similar circumstances to himself - to request a second opinion when he is told he needs surgery.

Of course, since the journalist is clearly being set up as one of the ongoing leads of the series, there's going to prove to be some truth to his claims.

The journalist and the doctor (who is played by Louis Gossett Jr) have good chemistry together and make their scenes work pretty well, but they can't disguise that the script packs about 40 minutes of action into an 80 minute film, nor that the resolution is entirely too pat and convenient to feel satisfying.  It's definitely a distinctly mediocre affair, and not one I can really recommend.

Oh, and the series this was intended to set-up?  It did happen, but it only lasted five episodes.  Honestly, that's probably five more than this deserved.

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