We had a chance to review Dr. Death Episode 1, the first episode of the new medical drama TV series on Peacock, in time for its premiere today. Although “entertained” would be the wrong word for a real-life tragedy that our firm is all too familiar with, we were suitably chilled by the narrative.
Dr. Death details the horrific story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a neurosurgeon who infamously maimed 31 patients and killed two while practicing at several hospitals within the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex until his eventual sentencing and imprisonment in 2017.
In our sneak peek at the pilot episode, the tension slowly builds as we listen to the testimonies of several former patients while looking into the indignant face of the titular doctor played by Joshua Jackson.
We’re then introduced to Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin), Randall Kirby (Christian Slater), Josh Baker (Hubert Point-Du Jour), and other staff at Dallas Medical Center, each of them revealing aspects of the cold, egotistical, and surgery-inept Dr. Duntsch.
Meet Dr. Death
Dr. Christopher Duntsch was a real-life doctor who earned his MD-Ph.D from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, one of the most prestigious schools of its kind in the United States. He began his early career focusing on medical research, landing his name in several medical papers and patents.
However, by the time he met his long-time romantic partner Wendy Renee Young (played by Molly Griggs), he was over $500,000 in debt and decided to switch to neurosurgery, which was a much more lucrative field. However, as his first few surgeries proved, just because someone looks good on paper, it doesn’t mean they can do the job.
Joshua Jackson Sells the Dark Heart of Christopher Duntsch
Jackson oozes egoism and truly captures the terrifying nature of a man who hides dark secrets beneath a charming smile. The surgeries he performs are uncomfortable to watch. Because, even if we don’t know anything about performing surgery, we can see that Dr. Duntsch’s methods are brutal.
When confronted about anything, Christopher Duntsch deflects responsibility. He blames those around him. He becomes belligerent.
Jackson portrays Duntsch with all the seriousness and gravitas the character deserves as we venture into the life and work of a malignant narcissist bent on filling the void in his heart with self-importance and visceral mayhem.
It’s a Fascinating Hit
The other members of the Dallas Medical team are beginning to catch on to the sociopathic tendencies of Dr. Death as he botches surgery after surgery, maiming his patients. Can they stop him from injuring more people before it’s too late?
We couldn’t keep our eyes off the screen as the metaphorical train began careening toward the episode’s climax, and just before the crash, we’re left with Robert Henderson’s haunting words, “Did you know what he was capable of?”
We look forward to watching more of this gripping drama about the first man ever imprisoned for medical malpractice, and we’ll be sharing our thoughts on the rest of the season.
The real-life Christopher Duntsch made callous and unforgivable blunder after blunder on the operating table. His actions led to so much pain and suffering for so many people, including several of our clients who were victims of the madman. So, it’s hard for us to see this adaptation as entertaining because we know the real hardships behind it. Instead, it’s a cold and necessary reminder that we must never allow this to happen again.
For More from the Series
Be sure to check out the first episode of Dr. Death available now on Peacock. All episodes are being released at once if you’re inclined to binge-watch.
Also, if you want more firsthand accounts, you may want to check out season one of the Dr. Death Podcast from Wondery, which Laura Beil hosts. Although the TV adaptation is based on a true story, it was inspired partially by the podcast’s popularity. As a result, the Dr. Death Podcast has continued onto successive seasons with Laura Beil as host, although the subject matter has shifted to other true stories of dangerous doctors.
In addition, be sure to browse our many resources on the subject matter.