Universal Channel’s Pure Genius: Is this the future of medicine?
In a television landscape inundated with medical dramas, new drama Pure Genius on Universal Channel presents an interesting spin on a genre in need of innovation.
Innovation is the key word here, as Pure Genius blends the fast-paced hospital dynamic of Grey’s Anatomy with the very forefront of technology like that seen in Silicon Valley. Pure Genius is the future, it declares, of healthcare.
The series follows Dr. Walter Wallace, an unorthodox surgeon who is struck off from his job after choosing to give a patient an experimental treatment without acquiring proper approval. Wallace is invited by billionaire entrepreneur James Bell to practice medicine in his new, cutting-edge hospital in the heart of Silicon Valley. This new hospital uses the very latest in new technologies to diagnose and help patients who might elsewhere be considered hopeless cases, all for free – and, supposedly, out of the goodness of Bell’s heart.
The concept is strikingly refreshing, particularly in a sea of medical drama. A lot of what Bell says to Wallace rings true. What sounds so wrong about combining the best minds in technology with the best minds in medicine and cutting out the middle man, as Bell suggests?
The reality is that this is not easy. Indeed, reality is not the series’ strongest point. The technology showcased on Pure Genius is sadly underdeveloped and seems unlikely even to a science noob. With a search of all available medical history across several doctors, Bell’s experimental software is able to diagnose a pattern of domestic abuse. With a wearable heart monitor on wire to the hospital, an experimental gadget correctly diagnoses a heart attack. One technology is even able to communicate with a patient in a six month coma. But there’s promise in the ideas, however, because if one can dream it – it must be possible.
Where the show does shine, however, is its characterisation. James Bell is a charismatic enigma, with actor Augustus Prew stealing every scene he is in. We get a sense, always, that there is something behind this apparently earnest desire to grant miracles through technology, so that a reveal at the end of the episode packs an appropriate emotional punch.
Concerns about the legitimacy of the science portrayed in the series aside, Pure Genius is a refreshing and thoughtful suggestion as to how the future of medicine might look, encased in a complex ensemble character drama. Medical drama fans should enjoy, and if the show can trust its viewers with a more complex inspection of real science, Pure Genius could become something special.