Coma divides Channel 5 viewers despite positive reviews

David Bradley, Claire Skinner, Jonas Armstrong and Jason Watkins in Coma. (Channel 5)
David Bradley, Claire Skinner, Jonas Armstrong and Jason Watkins star in Coma. (Channel 5)

Coma premiered on Channel 5 on Monday, 18 March and left viewers divided over the quality of its writing despite reviews hailing the drama and for its premise and acting.

The series follows mild-mannered man named Simon (Jason Watkins), who gains the interest of a group of youths and their leader Jordan (Joe Barber). Sick of being terrorised by them, Simon confronts Jordan and a split-second decision he makes has a terrifying impact.

Read More: Everything you need to know about Channel 5 drama Coma

Critics heaped praise on the series, particularly Watkins for his lead performance, with some suggesting that while Channel 5 shows are of a different quality to, say, Netflix and BBC productions, it doesn't mean that it lacks in quality.

Telegraph critic Anita Singh wrote: "I’m pretty forgiving of Channel 5 dramas because they’re made on a fraction of the budget of BBC or Netflix productions – for cost reasons, this one clearly wasn’t filmed in the UK – and they have no delusions of grandeur.

Joe Barber (Jordan) and Jason Watkins (Simon) in Coma. (Channel 5)
Joe Barber (Jordan) and Jason Watkins (Simon) in Coma, where a split second decision changes Simon's life forever. (Channel 5)

"They’re unpretentious, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin suspense thrillers in which it’s best to skim over the details (does a blow to the head cause cardiac arrest? Aren’t these actors a bit too old to be playing teenage gang members?)."

The critic added that while the show's finale might veer into "ridiculous" territory, it was well worth watching just for Watkins' performance.

The Guardian gave the series 4 stars, and critic Lucy Mangan also celebrated Watkins' work on the series, saying that he portrayed the "deep and honest terror of the man he’s with and the situation that is rapidly getting further and further out of hand" well.

Mangan went on to praise the show's intensity by adding: "If you can watch even the first episode of this all in one sitting, you have my great respect. I had to keep breaking off to breathe into a paper bag. By the second I was hiding behind the sofa."

Jason Watkins - Coma. (Channel 5)
Jason Watkins has been praised by critics for his performance in Coma. (Channel 5)

The i critic Isobel Lewis also gave the series four stars, writing: "Watkins, a seasoned professional in weeknight thrillers such as this, was the anchor stabilising Coma. His performance was remarkable in its ordinariness, and his ability to make a man so conflicted seem normal proves Watkins’s impressive talent."

Despite these positive reviews, though, viewers who shared their thoughts on the series on social media were clearly divided on the matter. Some shared their love for the show's first episode while others hit out at the quality of the writing.

One person wrote: Are #coma and #loverat churned out by an AI that failed all it's AI exams and blagged it's way into Script Writing for Channel 5."

Jason Watkins (Simon) in Coma. (Channel 5)
Coma were divided by the series, with some criticising its writing and other hailing Jason Watkins' portrayal of Simon. (Channel 5)

Criticising the show's writing, another said: "Channel 5 must have a decent amount of money to get actors like Jason Watkins and Claire Skinner, so why can’t they pay someone to write a decent script for them?"

Another said: #Coma on channel 5 is a bit comical as #JasonWatkins character is walking around acting & looking so GUILTY. He might as well have guilty tattooed on his forehead. The boy's dad is hilarious! Watkins has become the GO TO person for nerve wracking drama."

While one viewer bluntly wrote: "It’s just another typical channel 5 drama, they’re almost always terrible and yet being the masochist I am I put myself through them each time, in the silly belief maybe this time it would be a good series."

Those that celebrated the series, meanwhile, were delighted by it. One person wrote: "Coma on channel 5 is a very good watch i must say."

While another said: "Omg just watched the first episode of #Coma on channel 5 ohhhh it’s soooooo good and @Jason__Watkins is brilliant as per usual roll on tomorrow night"

And another said: "Blimey! #coma's good innit!!! Cracking acting and really excellent plot.... #ch5"

Coma is airing as a four-part event on Channel 5, with episodes airing everyday at 9pm.

Watch the trailer for Coma: