TV Review: ‘Chance’

Hugh Laurie, Gretchen Mol, LisaGay Hamilton, Paul Adelstein, Ethan Suplee, Stefania LaVie Owen

You would have to search far and wide to find a drama more glum and dismal than “Chance.” Hugh Laurie, who capably anchored “House” for so many years and who was delightfully duplicitous in AMC’s recent miniseries “The Night Manager,” cannot manage to lift this dull drama out of the array of ruts that it stubbornly wallows in.

Laurie plays Eldon Chance, a neuropsychiatrist whose practice puts him in touch with patients dealing with mental illness, traumatic brain injuries, or some combination of both. In the course of his work, the doctor, who is in the process of getting a divorce, comes across a woman whose problems awaken a misguided savior complex in him. Partly due to a need for money, partly in search of a connection that will lift him out of middle-aged anomie, he’s drawn down an increasingly violent and dangerous path, and his pursuit of a woman who may or may not be manipulating him threatens to further damage his already challenging existence. (To be clear, Chance’s challenges are of the upper-middle class variety: To pay for his divorce and other expenses, he mulls selling his expensive Art Deco desk.) 

All of these ingredients make for a promising premise; more TV shows in search of twisty plots should rifle through “Double Indemnity” and other film noir classics. In its press notes, “Chance” is billed as a thriller, but for that designation to be accurate, it would be necessary for at least a few developments to be surprising. Unfortunately, the burned-out doctor is so naive and so laughably gullible that just about every choice feels pre-determined and every consequence can be seen coming a mile away. Add several scenes of clunky, overwritten dialogue and an underwritten female lead to an almost complete lack of suspense, and the end result is a cliche-ridden drama that is a painful chore to sit through.

Like “Low Winter Sun” and dozens of other derivative also-ran dramas about tortured men and the bad decisions they make, “Chance” appears to think that an almost uniform tone of dour disappointment is a credible substitute for layered characters, a varied yet unified range of emotional reactions and a well-executed plot that keeps viewers intrigued. No one is sad all the time; nor is it necessary to approach serious issues — such as mental illness and moral crises — only through a haze of self-pity and stress. It’s ironic that, at every turn, a drama named “Chance” comes off as deeply resistant to taking one. 

TV Review: 'Chance'

Drama: 10 episodes (2 reviewed); Hulu; Weds. Oct. 19. 60 Min.

Crew: Executive producers, Alexandra Cunningham, Kem Nunn, Lenny Abrahamson, Michael London, Hugh Laurie, Brian Grazer.

Cast: Hugh Laurie, Gretchen Mol, LisaGay Hamilton, Paul Adelstein, Ethan Suplee, Stefania LaVie Owen

More TV

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    CBS Stations Go Dark on AT&T's DirecTV, U-verse Platforms Amid Contract Battle

    CBS’ 28 O&O stations are going dark for about 6.6 million subscribers of AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse platforms as the Eye and AT&T battle over a new retransmission consent contract. The blackout affects CBS and CW-affiliated stations in 14 major markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Also off the air are the CBS [...]

  • Orlando Bloom Comic Con Immigrant San

    Orlando Bloom Claims San Diego Mayor Ran From Comic-Con Exhibit Featuring Immigrant Characters

    Did an immigration storyline cause Republican San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to run out of Amazon Prime Video’s Comic-Con activation this week? According to “Carnival Row” star Orlando Bloom, that’s exactly what happened. At Amazon’s “Carnival Row” panel, Bloom told the audience that Faulconer stopped by the Prime Video activation and chose the “Carnival Row” [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Cast Calls Final

    'Game of Thrones' Cast Calls Final Season Backlash 'Media-Led Hate Campaign'

    What is life like now after “Game of Thrones?” That’s the question that fans have been asking themselves and that cast members had to answer at the show’s final Comic-Con panel. But first, Conleth Hill, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and several others cleared the air and addressed the perceived negative response to the final season. “I don’t [...]

  • SDCC Roundup: AMC Drops 'The Walking

    SDCC TV News Roundup: AMC Releases 'The Walking Dead' Season 10 Trailer (Watch)

    San Diego Comic-Con has become a hotbed of entertainment news in recent years, especially for the television industry. In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, AMC dropped a trailer for the 10th season of “The Walking Dead” and FX released a first look at “Mayans MC” Season 2. FIRST LOOKS AMC debuted the trailer for Season [...]

  • ARCHER: 1999 -- "Cubert" -- Season

    'Archer' Renewed for Season 11 at FXX

    “Archer” has been picked up for an eleventh season. The announcement was made Friday at San Diego Comic-Con. The news comes less than a week ahead of the Season 10 finale. Season 11 is slated to debut on FXX in 2020. While the show initially focused on the agents and support staff of a covert [...]

  • Carnival Row

    Amazon Debuts New 'Carnival Row' Footage at Comic-Con (Watch)

    San Diego Comic-Con attendees got an extended look at the upcoming Amazon drama “Carnival Row” during the show’s panel at the annual fanfest on Friday. Two new featurettes (see above and below) offer in-depth looks at the backstories of the two main characters — Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevigne) and Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom). Delevigne plays [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content