(On Cable TV, January 2018) Michael Crichton became a contrarian cuckoo in his last few years, but even that sad brain-eating epilogue shouldn’t distract from an amazing career in which he wrote best-sellers, created hit TV shows, coded computer games, won a Technical Achievement Academy Award (!) for budgeting and scheduling innovations (!!) and, oh, directed half a dozen big-budget movies. Movies like Coma, showing his knack for technical medical drama coupled with solid storytelling abilities. While it’s not required to praise Coma beyond its own goals as a straightforward thriller, Crichton’s film does manage to be effective. Based on nothing less than one of Robin Cook’s early novels, it’s a blend of medical drama, high-tech investigation, conspiracy thriller and woman-in-distress drama. Genevieve Bujold stars as a doctor who becomes suspicious of mysterious coma cases at her hospital, with some good supporting performances by Michael Douglas and Rip Torn. (Watch for Ed Harris in his first film role as a technician.) While the film can’t escape a certain seventies stodginess, it’s this very same atmosphere that makes the film more interesting than expected today—Coma has emerged from the last thirty years as a period piece rather than a dated one, and it’s seeing things like Douglas in a full beard that makes the film rather entertaining to watch. Even the high-tech gloss of the film, at times ridiculous, is now rather charming. Not an essential film, but not an uninteresting one either.