Friday, June 25, 2010

First Do No Harm

TV movies have a bad reputation. This is essentially because the worst of them just take an issue, and interpret it in a basic manner. First Do No Harm is let's learn about epilepsy.

Of course, as someone who knows a bit about the subject, there are some things which don't really work. Having a kid subjected to an intensive battery of tests after one seizure is inaccurate, though it's likely the time line was compressed for the sake of time - it's only an EEG the first time - and it isn't a case of "two seizures is epilepsy at all times" - I don't have it and I've had more than one. Whatever, that's what happens when something has to be easily distilled into an easy to understand manner for the sake of a TV movie.

That's the problem though. Learning about epilepsy - and the assorted crap about why the US health insurance system is pretty much terrible and screws everyone over for arbitrary drama - isn't really a plot. Meryl Streep, while a classy actor, can't really elevate the proceedings above a PSA. Jim Abrahams, while once good at comedy, simply can't pull off being a drama director.

It's heart is in the right place, really. It wants to help people learn about a condition that is both serious but not so bad that people with it can't be perfectly normal. It wants to educate, which is admirable, and it wants to show off a special diet which helps some people, which is similarly admirable. It's just that with education as the top priority, making an entertaining movie is too far down the list.

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