‘A Gifted Man’ is a new drama on CBS. Starring Patrick Wilson as Dr. Michael Holt, the show is set in New York City. Michael is a neurosurgeon; he is considered the best and is in high demand. His ambition can lead to moments of rudeness like how he treats his office assistant (he doesn’t wish her a happy birthday). While he does not claim to be happy, his life isn’t a disaster. He’s single, but he’s having a fling with his hot CFO. His work is most of his life, but he is in control of his life, and he likes it that way.
The show opens with Michael performing surgery on his friend Ron, a very rich man who parties too hard. Michael saves his life, but Ron needs time to recover; Ron needs to rest and avoid alcohol. During his run after work, Michael sees a ball and hears a car accident, but when he investigates, there is no accident. Later, while picking up take out, he runs into Anna, his ex-wife. They haven’t seen each other in ten years, and she didn’t even tell him that she had moved to New York. He hugs her; her visit surprises him, and he invites her to his place to have dinner. Over wine, they reminisce about their time in Alaska; they’re both doctors and used to work together at a clinic. Anna never remarried, and she came to New York because she was recruited by a clinic. After dinner, Michael gets a call from his nephew from jail; he was caught in a gang roundup. At his sister’s, Michael lectures her about being a better mother and gives her money. He tells her about his dinner with Anna.
The following day, Michael calls Anna’s clinic and discovers that she died two weeks ago. His sister visits him at his office; she wants him to come to family therapy, but he refuses. She learns that Anna is dead and brings up what he said the night before. He denies saying he had dinner with Anna; he blames being woken up from an oxycontin haze (he has an old shoulder injury) late at night made him confused. Later that night, he sees the red ball from yesterday. Anna appears. She explains that she ran into the street to get a kid’s ball; she knows she is dead, but she doesn’t remember getting hit by the car. She needs his help; she wants him to go to her clinic and put in her password so her coworkers can access information. He agrees. After he accesses her files, he agrees to help a woman and her children by taking them to his office so the boys can get the tests they need.
All of the story lines converge during the rest of his day. Michael treats a tennis player; the tennis player character mirrors him. She is ambitious and driven and was willing to risk her life to get into the record books. His friend Ron gets drunk, causing his death. These events spur Michael to change his mind about performing surgery on the boy; he performs the surgery instead of passing it to someone else. Anna appears again; she is happy that he is helping people less fortunate. She tells him that she likes being around him again after ten years apart. He freaks out; he wants her gone because he doesn’t understand why she is there; she says that he needs something that he can’t control in his life. Taking his sister’s advice, he visits her shaman friend. The shaman performs a ritual to rid him of her spirit. Anna tells Michael that she has so much left to do and that if she leaves, they will never see each other again. He ends the ritual. Before he leaves, he checks to see if Anna is still around. She is.
The advertising for ‘A Gifted Man’ kept repeating that the main character was haunted by the ghost of his ex-wife. Because of the way it was promoted, I thought this show was going to be like Medium and The Ghost Whisperer, but it is not. Anna does not act like a ghost. Anna and Michael interact with each other physically; they hug, and she puts her head on his shoulder. She can sit on couches and lean against walls. During her visits, she acts more like a guide; she wants to help him become a better man. The pilot presents Anna more like a guardian angel, not a ghost. This is why this show reminds me of Touched by an Angel. ‘A Gifted Man’ is not really about a man with the gift of communicating with the beyond; the show is actually about a man with talent getting guidance about how to better use his gifts and live a more meaningful life. Watching this episode made me miss Medium even more; I was in the mood for a good ghost story. Unfortunately, ‘A Gifted Man’ did not deliver.