'All Souls' Is a Spooky Place to Practice

TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

UPN's spooky new "All Souls" is Dr. Kildare meets Nosferatu.

Talk about a hospital with health-care problems. All Souls, the 300-year-old Boston research and teaching facility where Dr. Michael Grace (Grayson McCouch) is a first-year resident, has a spate of female patients dying inexplicably, demons lurking in the shadows, a 19th century woman pushing a baby carriage down dark corridors and a lab where squiggly worms and maggots mess up a young orderly. Unspeakable things are happening. Do you hear, unspeakable!

And don't even talk about the bad food.

This series has paranormal fun scrawled (probably in disappearing ink) all over it. Grace not only has good bedside manner but is caring, sensitive, generous and utterly devoted to patients. If you're comparing realities, he is the polar opposite of the pivotal young doctor in HBO's recent adaptation of the play "Wit." The difference is that guy had only his patients' cancer to worry about, whereas Grace is shrouded by creepiness at every turn.

In addition, he's tormented by visions of his dead father, who was a janitor at All Souls, and other weirdness for which there appears no rational explanation. While investigating these happenings, he's into some stuff that puts him in jeopardy. Among his allies are Glory St. Clair (Irma P. Hall), an aging nurse with paranormal abilities. Surgical director Nicole De Brae (Serena Scott Thomas) also appears to be his friend.

Meanwhile, the dead are harassing the living, and doctors in high places appear to have agendas not covered by the Hippocratic oath. And what about those embryos, huh?

From the darkness to the nasty spirits, what's not to like?

* "All Souls" premieres tonight at 9 on UPN. The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children).

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