TV Review: Doctor Death Season 2

Published 5:00 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

I am a big true crime podcast fan and one of the most consistently interesting series has been Wondery’s DR. DEATH. Each season follows a new deadly doctor whose medical malfeasances have cost patients their lives. Peacock has taken on the task of bringing these stories to life. This season, which premieres December 21, focuses on the indiscretions of Italian surgeon Dr. Paolo Macchiarini (played by Edgar Ramirez), who has been accused of unethically performing trachea surgeries that resulted in at least seven deaths.

The series primarily centers around the experience of NBC News producer Benita Alexander (Mandy Moore), who against protocol falls in love with the subject of one of her stories, Dr. Macchiarini (Ramirez). Benita quickly is swept up in the legend of Macchiarini, whose research using artificial tracheas coated in stem cells has become the talk of the international medical community. There are whispers that he is a “miracle doctor” and may even receive the Nobel Prize for his work. So Benita risks her career and reputation to follow him around the world in support of his endeavors. In many cases, Macchiarini uses her to wine and dine benefactors for research financing and to convince patients to undergo his surgery.

But little does Benita know, much of Macchiarini’s research has been falsified, and the romantic gestures he showers on her may not be as honorable as it seems. As the lies start to stack up, Benita’s repressed journalistic instincts kick in and her suspicions are raised. And as patient deaths and complications rise, Macchiarini’s colleagues, like Dr. Nathan Gamelli (Luke Kirby), also become suspicious. But will the house of cards come crashing down in time to save the patients that have put their lives in Macchiarini’s hands?

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The series admittedly starts off a little slow and has flashes of melodrama as you see Macchiarini use his charm to woo those around him. Additionally, the time jumps can be a little confusing as you are trying to get acclimated in the story; it makes it difficult to determine how much time has passed in any of the timelines. But by the end of the second episode, I was completely sucked in. Each episode does a phenomenal job of slowly lowering the curtain on Macchiarini’s facade, putting you in the place of Benita. With a show called DR. DEATH, you know the doctor isn’t going to be a good person, but you don’t know just how bad it gets until the series progresses.

More than anything, the series does a great job of never losing sight of Macchiarini’s victims, getting you emotionally invested in the patients’ stories the second they appear on-screen. In fact, the best episode of the series, which I think is also one of the best episodes of TV I have seen this year, is episode five. Acting almost as a bottle episode, it focuses on the gut-wrenching story of Yesim Cetir (Alisha Erozer), a young Turkish woman who faces horrific complications from her trachea replacement surgery. Dr. Gamelli takes this case very personally and promises he will do what he can to get her healthy again. It is this push and pull between his suspicion with Macchiarini’s care and the lack of belief and support from the hospital center that makes this story particularly upsetting. Cetir’s story really provides a personal, horrifying look at the victims’ stories and gives viewers a whole new level of disgust with Macchiarini and the damage he did on so many lives, as well as highlights the health system that kept him in power for so long.

DR. DEATH is an addicting, entertaining, and terrifying series that is going to make you think twice the next time you go to your doctor’s office. I watched the entire 8-episode series in less than 24 hours and am already excited to see what Peacock will inevitably do with the next story in the series. I also love that the entire series is directed by women, including ONCE UPON A TIME alum Jennifer Morrison. Hopefully stories like these will make us more aware that even in our most vulnerable times, we still need to be on the lookout for predators… even when they come in the form of doctors.

My Review: B