The sexy ghost doctors of Saving Hope outlive competitors

The Canadian television industry has cornered the market on police procedurals, a format palatable to  the international marketplace and audiences at home. After the successes of Flashpoint, Rookie Blue and a number of imitators (“with a twist!”) of varying levels of success, the thoughts of the industry turned to that other staple of case-of-the-week TV: the medical drama.

Combat Hospital got stellar ratings on Global and a cancellation when ABC withdrew after the first season.  They’re trying again with Remedy, which hasn’t landed quite as solidly in the ratings but is in production for a second season.

It’s Saving Hope that’s our medical  success story: it’s held on to million-and-a-half-ish ratings for CTV — and its life — despite NBC pulling out early on due to low ratings Stateside (it has a new American home on ION now).

The initial twist — Dr. Alex Reid’s fiance is in a coma and appears as a spirit —  sounded familiar to those who’d seen CBS’s A Gifted Man, but it has outlived that show by a couple of seasons now, reinventing itself somewhat each time but retaining its relationship-drama-in-a-hospital core with an appealing lead in Erica Durance, supported by an ensemble that this season adds Danso Gordon, Mac Fyfe and Stacey Farber.

Season three tonight starts where season two left off, with Dr. Reid’s colleagues trying to save her life after she was stabbed in the heart (literally this time). There’s a oddly mellow pace to the life-saving attempts as it intercuts with her own spirit-world journey at the beginning of a two-night premiere week, but fans are likely to find the two-parter a satisfyingly novel exploration of its characters without straying from the familiar patterns of the series.

CTV has wisely given the first six episodes a cushy regular timeslot on Thursday nights following Grey’s Anatomy, which has dabbled in its own relationship dramas and not-quite-alive spirit characters.

Saving Hope doesn’t break new ground but it walks its familiar medical soap (with a twist) ground with confidence. Watch tonight and Thursday on CTV, followed by four more fall episodes on Thursdays.