Dr. Death is an American crime drama miniseries created by Patrick Macmanus which is based on the podcast of the same name. The miniseries was released on Peacock on July 15, 2021. The eight-part miniseries is about a real-life arrogant, sinister doctor – Christopher Duntsch – who treats his Hippocratic Oath about the same way he treats his patients. As his malignant narcissism and sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder) escalates, his fellow surgeons and a young assistant district attorney set out to stop him.
There are a couple of selling points that make Dr. Death an essential TV miniseries to binge-watch. These are mainly down to the solid characterisations and the attention to plot detail that the miniseries excels in. The fact that it is based on true life events, makes Dr. Death that much more compelling as the narrative that unfolds at times seem incredulous – how did Duntsch manage to get away with maiming so many of his patients on the operating table and suffer virtually no initial consequences whatsoever?
Joshua Jackson is brilliant as the narcissistic Dunstch – the man is so self-absorbed that he is unable to emphatize with anyone else but himself. Jackson’s acting is equally effective portraying Dunstch in college – where the seeds of his arrogance and superiority complex (masking a deep low self-esteem) are planted. Dr. Death functions as a deep character study of this kind of toxic personality – that seems to thrive in American society – as witnessed by the 44th POTUS! Which in itself is a commentary on the systemic dysfunction of the American medical culture.
The miniseries also sensitively presents the plight of Duntsch’s numerous victims, as the story is really about them. Duntsch is able to con them into trusting him before subsequently casting them aside when the shit hits the fan. Thankfully, there are morally-responsible individuals out there – fellow surgeons Randall Kirby (Christian Slater) and Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) – who do their best to stop Duntsch from hurting any more of his patients.
The importance of Dr. Death as a cautionary tale cannot be under-estimated but over and above that assessment, it is also entertaining TV. Highly recommended.
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