Dr. Death is horrifying in all its forms, from the ProPublica expose to the podcast to the streaming series starring Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin, and Joshua Jackson as Christopher Duntsch, the eponymous “Dr. Death”. Dr. Death streamed on Peacock in 2021 and garnered three Critics Choice Awards nominations—had it streamed on any other platform that people actually watch, it probably would have gotten a lot more attention and accolades, especially for Jackson. Well, somebody somewhere at NBCUniversal decided Dr. Death did well enough, because it got a second season, done anthology style centered on a new terrible doctor.
Dr. Death season two stars Edgar Ramirez as Paolo Macchiarini, who was convicted in Swedish courts of causing bodily harm and gross assault after several patients died or were maimed following experimental procedures he performed. Dr. Death’s second season also stars Mandy Moore, because while Macchiarini was being celebrated as a surgeon on the brink of major medical breakthroughs, he also romanced the producer of a TV documentary being made about him. This season looks like it’s based on a Vanity Fair article about the affair.
The original Dr. Death story is so existentially horrifying I could barely get through it, yet I ended up reading the article, listening to the podcast, and watching the series. I’m less familiar with Paolo Macchiarini’s story, though I do recall the VF article about his various (alleged) schemes and scams and his disastrous relationship with the news producer, Benita Alexander. But it turned out that a con romance was the least of anyone’s problems, because Macchiarini’s experimental replacement trachea device didn’t actually work and was doing harm to patients.
It’s gut-wrenching even to think about, we trust doctors with our lives, with our loved ones’ and children’s lives, and when they betray that trust it is devastating, but I am going to end up watching all of this, just like I did with the first season, not least because the casting is so good. Edgar Ramirez is PERFECT to play a charming con man type. Why would people believe his lies? Just look at him! OF COURSE they believed him! If Edgar Ramirez smiled at you like that, you’d believe him, too.
It’s really too bad no one watches Peacock, because good shows like Dr. Death keep falling through the cracks.