North Texas Daily

‘The Patient’: A master class in poor television formatting

‘The Patient’: A master class in poor television formatting

‘The Patient’: A master class in poor television formatting
September 09
13:00 2022

Fall television premiere season is back in full swing with “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” “Game of Thrones” spinoff “House of the Dragon” and the final season of “Atlanta” streaming into September. With a plethora of new content available for your viewing pleasure, only some are worth sticking with through the end of the season – and you can skip FX’s “The Patient.”

Created by “The Americans” showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, “The Patient” stars Steve Carell as a therapist named Alan Strauss. When his patient, Sam Fortner (Domnhall Gleason), takes Strauss hostage and demands he fixes his serial killer tendencies, Strauss has no option but to comply.

The first two episodes of the series were released Aug. 30 on Hulu and have a runtime of approximately 20 minutes – very different from the 45-minute runtime thriller and drama shows traditionally have. Although it’s possible to develop enough plot to keep viewers’ interest after only 20 minutes, “The Patient” fails to do so.

Rather than properly introducing Strauss and Fortner, “The Patient” immediately throws viewers into the main conflict with no build-up. It’s hard to care about a series when its characters are two-dimensional. The cold open technique works if it’s crafted correctly, but in this case,  it doesn’t build up to any mind-blowing plot twist. It takes the most shocking moment, places it within the first five minutes and the plot fizzles from there.

The failure of “The Patient” isn’t entirely the fault of its 20-minute run time. Netflix proved it was possible to draw audiences to short-form content with its 2017 release of “The End of the F—cking World,” a dark comedy-drama about a teen psychopath named James and an outsider called Alyssa who run away from their dysfunctional families.

The difference is “The End of the F—cking World” stylizes itself by filling its run time with quick, attention-grabbing scenes that steadily build upon its plot. Whereas, “The Patient” is dull, predictable and fails to develop any semblance of plot over the course of two episodes.

One of the biggest flaws of “The Patient” is Hulu’s decision to release its episodes weekly rather than all at once. Twenty minutes of content, let alone content failing to develop any plot, is not worth returning weekly for. Even if “The Patient” somehow turns out to be a fantastic slow burn, its formatting will deter viewers from keeping up with the series. Had the entire series been released all at once, it might have had a chance at keeping its audience.

It’s hard to believe the showrunners for “The Patient” are the same who created “The Americans,” which received 18 nominations and four Emmys over the course of six seasons. While admittedly still a slow burn, “The Americans”’ intriguing plot about two KGB officers posing as a traditional American family during the Cold War kept viewers around long enough to truly appreciate it. Unfortunately, “The Patient” most likely won’t have the same fate.

The only flaw bigger than the formatting of “The Patient” is Carell’s wasted talent. When “The Morning Show” premiered in 2019, Carell proved himself capable of more than just comedy – so much so he was nominated for an Emmy award in 2020. Many viewers were excited to see him take on another drama role but will inevitably be disappointed to see Carell’s performance be overshadowed by shoddy writing.

Unless Hulu executives suddenly decide to release all episodes of “The Patient” at once, it isn’t likely Fields and Weisberg will keep their audience’s attention long enough for them to stick around till the end.

Maddie’s Final Rating: 1.5/5

Featured Illustration by Jenna Wesson

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Madeleine Moore

Madeleine Moore

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