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Laurie’s New Healing Sleuth Takes a Dubious Chance

2 minute read

“This is all so weird, you know? I’m a medical professional. I’m not some Raymond Chandler character.” That’s Hugh Laurie, as Dr. Eldon Chance in the new drama Chance. It’s a cute line, and overwritten. Dr. Chance is indeed a character trapped in ever heightening circumstances; the fact that they don’t feel real–to him or to us–is less something fun to acknowledge than a problem that tighter pacing might solve.

Laurie is making his grand comeback–his first ongoing drama series, already greenlighted for two full seasons on the streaming service Hulu, since his last medical drama made him a House-hold name. Like so many streaming series, this show unspools lugubriously, secure in the knowledge that couch dwellers will wait for the next one to load. Dr. Chance, a Bay Area forensic neuropsychiatrist drawn from the work of novelist Kem Nunn, diagnoses his patient’s ailments and even testifies on their behalf in court, saying they know not what they do.

That’s fascinating, and Laurie’s as delightfully rumpled as ever, but the show’s main action–his attraction to a woman (Gretchen Mol) who claims to have an alternate personality and who verifiably is drawn to trouble–is a drag. If Chance is such a genius, having him play out a story whose twists we nongeniuses see coming feels like a waste.

The show is trying to say something about Chance’s own attraction to sin–brilliant though he is, he can’t help but get involved in what a pulp crime writer might call San Francisco’s “seedy underbelly.” There’s promise that endless stakeouts and punch-outs might give way to more of that insight. But with an imperative to create more content rather than more nuanced content, Hulu is in no rush to get there.

CHANCE appears on Wednesdays on Hulu

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