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Coma (American miniseries)

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Coma is a 2012 American television miniseries based on the 1977 novel Coma by Robin Cook and the subsequent 1978 film Coma. The four-hour medical thriller was originally broadcast on A&E on September 3–4, 2012.[1][2]

Coma (2012 miniseries).jpg
GenreMedical thriller
Created byRobin Cook
based on his novel
Based onComa
by Robin Cook
Developed byRidley Scott
Tony Scott
Written byJohn J. McLaughlin
Directed byMikael Salomon
StarringLauren Ambrose
Steven Pasquale
Geena Davis
James Woods
Ellen Burstyn
Richard Dreyfuss
James Rebhorn
Joe Morton
Michael Weston
Joseph Mazzello
Composer(s)David Buckley
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Ridley Scott
Tony Scott
David W. Zucker
Martin Erlichman
Mikael Salomon
Running time240 minutes (both parts with commercials)
Production company(s)Sony Pictures Television
Warner Bros. Television
Scott Free Productions
Turner Entertainment Co. (uncredited, copyright holder)
DistributorSony Pictures Television
Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original networkA&E
Original releaseSeptember 3 –
4, 2012
External links

The series was directed by Mikael Salomon and produced by Ridley Scott and his brother Tony Scott, the same team that adapted The Andromeda Strain into the 2008 miniseries on A&E. The film is dedicated to Tony Scott, who died in August 2012, only weeks before its broadcast premiere.



Susan Wheeler (Lauren Ambrose) is a medical student starting her first year of training at the Peach Tree Memorial Hospital, built by her deceased grandfather. There she meets Dr. Mark Bellows (Steven Pasquale), Chief Surgical Resident, a doctor in a relationship with the Head of Psychiatry Dr. Agnetta Lindquist (Geena Davis). Wheeler discovers that an unusually high number of surgeries at the hospital have been ending in comas. These coma patients are being transferred to the mysterious Jefferson Institute, a hospital designed to take care of coma patients. It is run by Mrs. Emerson (Ellen Burstyn), who refers to the patients as her "babies".

With the help of Dr. Bellows (and soon Dr. Theodore Stark (James Woods), Chief of Surgery), Wheeler investigates the comas, and before long, strange things begin to happen seemingly to stop her investigation: her roommate, who works at the hospital and who helped her to access confidential files, is suddenly fired; the hospital board tries to have her expelled from school; and she discovers cameras in her house. She is also stalked by Peter Arno (Michael Weston), who turns out to be a patient of Dr. Lindquist's and seems to be stalking Wheeler at Lindquist's behest. During one encounter with Wheeler, Peter puts a burlap sack over her head and tells her that if she does not stop looking into the comas, she will end up at Jefferson too.

Soon after a rare tour at Jefferson, during which Wheeler wanders off path and discovers inhumane practices such as suspending patients by metal rods inserted into their bones, she contacts Dr. Stark with evidence, but he is in a car accident that renders him comatose before he can expose the conspiracy. Wheeler and Dr. Bellows - who began suspecting Dr. Lindquist's role in the conspiracy and broke off their relationship - together find out that various hospital staff and doctors have been getting large amounts of money from Jefferson. They further discover that each patient who ended up in a coma was operated on in the same room, which was pumped full of carbon monoxide via a pipe from the basement; this would render the patient brain dead without anyone noticing. Arno tries to kill Wheeler as she tries to collect evidence, but when he fails, he slits his own throat in a body cooler.

Wheeler is eventually captured and delivered to Jefferson, where they plan to put her into a coma. She breaks free, though severely sedated, and tries to escape through the hospital, hallucinating that she is underwater. As she flees, she finds out the complete truth - the Jefferson Institute is a human experimentation laboratory and organ farm. Jefferson has Peach Tree Memorial purposely induce comas on patients predisposed to certain diseases and then uses the bodies in various ways, ranging from harvesting organs from the patients directly, to inducing pregnancy to use the fetuses for parts or umbilical stem cells to using them as human test subjects. Finally she encounters Professor Hillside, her medical school professor, who tells her that he and her late grandfather, Dr. Wheeler, are the masterminds of the Jefferson Institute, making it their legacy. Wheeler cries, distraught that this barbarism is being carried out in the name of medical advancement.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bellows and police Detective Jackson (who has been investigating the stalking of Wheeler and the death of Arno) both end up at the house of Dr. Stark. There they find most of the doctors gathered for Dr. Stark's memorial; Stark died during surgery a few hours before. While there, Dr. Nelson, head of anesthesiology and a part of the conspiracy, is seemingly overcome by guilt and tells the detective and Dr. Bellows that they can find Wheeler at the Jefferson Institute. The police and Dr. Bellows soon enter the institute and witness the horror for themselves. They arrest Professor Hillside and Dr. Bellows discovers Wheeler, who stabbed Mrs. Emerson to death with a syringe in self-defense and escaped through a drain.

The miniseries ends with Wheeler awake in a hospital with Dr. Bellows by her side. She tells him she had “a terrible dream...I dreamt I was underwater and I couldn't get out”. Dr. Bellows tells her “it was just a dream” and then receives a text message with a picture of Dr. Lindquist, asking him to join her at a hospital in China. Dr. Bellows looks at Susan and repeats, “It was just a dream.”



Coma was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, in December 2011.[3][4]



The first two hours, first broadcast on September 3, 2012, were watched by 1.82 million viewers and received a 0.5 rating among viewers aged 18–49.[5] The final two hours, first shown on September 4, 2012, were watched by 1.52 million viewers and received a 0.5 18–49 rating.[6]

Critical receptionEdit

Coma was met with generally mixed reviews. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the miniseries holds a 50% score, an average rating of 4/10 taken from reviews from 20 critics. Its consensus states: "Coma evokes some creepy images but the majority of the miniseries is not believable in terms of story development, dialogue, or performances."[7] The miniseries received a 56 out of 100 aggregate score, based on 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews" reception at Metacritic.[8] Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B grade, but added, "Alas, there are enough reminders of real life—including an early suicide—to dampen the fun of this guilty pleasure."[9] Verne Gay of Newsday also gave it a B and stated, "The plot's ridiculous, but the film's mostly fun, while the pleasure of watching Ellen Burstyn play a homicidal wacko is not to be denied anyone."[10] David Hinckley of the New York Daily News stated, "This Coma is different enough from the 1978 movie to have its own appeal, and the cast keeps things interesting even during plot lulls."[11] Linda Stasi of the New York Post called the miniseries "very lame" and "dopey", adding, "The mystery is pretty much laid out like a coma patient from the beginning [and] ruins whatever suspense you might otherwise have built up."[12]

DVD releaseEdit

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the miniseries on DVD on October 30, 2012.[13]

International broadcastsEdit

On 6 June 2013, Channel 5 in the United Kingdom broadcast the miniseries as an extended-length film.


  1. ^ "C O M A". A&E. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  2. ^ "A&E Network Presents 'Coma' from Ridley and Tony Scott – Thriller Premieres Labor Day, September 3 at 9PM ET/PT and Concludes Tuesday, September 4 at 9PM ET/PT". The Futon Critic. June 12, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  3. ^ "Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Burstyn, James Woods, Geena Davis, Lauren Ambrose and Steven Pasquale to Star in A&E Network's Four-Hour Epic Mini Series 'Coma'". The Futon Critic. December 8, 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  4. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (December 8, 2011). "Lauren Ambrose, Steven Pasquale and Richard Dreyfuss to Headline A&E's 'Coma' Miniseries (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  5. ^ Bibel, Sara (September 5, 2012). "Monday Cable Ratings: 'Love and Hip Hop Atlanta' Wins Night, 'T.I. and Tiny', 'Switched at Birth', 'WWE Raw', 'Major Crimes', 'Perception' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  6. ^ Bibel, Sara (September 6, 2012). "Tuesday Cable Ratings: 'Counting Cars' Wins Night, 'Teen Mom', 'White Collar', 'Dance Moms', 'Face Off', 'Covert Affairs', DNC Coverage & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  7. ^ "Coma: Season 1 (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  8. ^ "Coma – Reviews, Ratings, Credits and More". Metacritic. August 31, 2012. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  9. ^ Collis, Clark (September 4, 2012). "Tonight's Best TV: Coma". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  10. ^ Gay, Verne (September 4, 2012). "'Coma' review: A&E adaptation is a hoot". Newsday. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  11. ^ Hinckley, David (September 3, 2012). "TV Review: A&E's 'Coma'". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  12. ^ Stasi, Linda (September 4, 2012). "The big sleep". New York Post. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  13. ^ Lambert, David (September 10, 2012). "Coma (miniseries) – Finalized Details and Package Art (Front and Back) for the 2012 Mini-Series". A&E press release. Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2012.

External linksEdit