Synopsis by Mark Deming
The true story of two medical pioneers -- one celebrated, one overlooked -- is brought to life in this made-for-cable drama. Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman) is chief surgeon at Johns Hopkins University, where he is pioneering new techniques in heart surgery. Blalock makes the acquaintance of Vivien Thomas (Mos Def), a carpenter hired to work at the University, and to his surprise discovers a man of keen intelligence who has a great interest in medicine. However, as a poor black man in the Jim Crow South, Thomas lacks the financial resources to obtain a medical degree, though he certainly has the knowledge and the desire. Blalock takes Thomas on as his lab assistant, and together they develop a technique that allows them to correct a common congenital heart defect in children. However, while they work side by side in the lab and in the operating room, Blalock and Thomas do not walk the same paths in society, and Thomas develops a deep resentment that he has been given little credit for his contribution to a medical innovation that makes Blalock famous. Produced for the premium cable network HBO, Something the Lord Made also features Gabrielle Union, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Charles S. Dutton.
African-American, laboratory-assistant, birth-defects, heart-surgeon, partner, dreams-of-success, pioneer, fame, medicine, university, resentment, carpenter