Crime drama ‘The Mob Doctor’ falls flat
TV Review | 1.5 our of 5 stars
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 07:10
What would you do to protect your loved ones and keep them out of harm’s way? Dr. Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) answer is “anything,” despite her debt to the Chicago mafia. The show’s writers, however, do little to ensure the success of FOX’s new crime drama, “The Mob Doctor,” as they indulge every mob cliche and trite familial stereotype known to television.
“The Mob Doctor” begins with a slow, lethargic voice−over by the doctor herself about the first time she saw a dead body as a little girl. The monologue, as well as the first half of the show, was as monotonous and dead as the corpse shown on screen. Grace says that, despite her age, she wasn’t afraid to touch what turns out to be her father’s body. This character presentation, though unusual, is a laughable attempt by the show to garner some sort of awe factor for the mob doctor. It doesn’t work.
The lackluster acting continues as each new character appears on screen, whether they are at the hospital, at home or in one of several locations where Devlin performs her mafia duties.
The pilot wastes no time in diving face first into a bramble thicket of a plot. Dr. Devlin has made a deal with Moretti, played by Michael Rapaport, a hot−headed, degrading mob boss, and she will do whatever is necessary to save her brother’s life. An opportunity to do so arises when an FBI witness enters the hospital where she works. If she kills the witness, Moretti will consider her debt settled.
To give the show credit, “Mob Doctor” effectively crafts a female−centric drama whose lead lacks insecurities and isn’t immediately relegated to a domestic position.
Strident, sure of herself and chronically unfazed, Devlin bravely confronts her superiors in every situation, despite the danger they pose to her. “Mob Doctor” takes no missteps in creating a brilliant and skillful doctor who singlehandedly — and against her superior’s orders — saves patients and manages her and her family’s wellbeing.
What “The Mob Doctor” gains in its depiction of the lead character, though, it quickly loses due to lack of a moral compass. The mob provides an excellent “bad guy” for the viewer to root against. Devlin is comparatively appealing as a good−guy doctor that an audience can get behind while she protects her family. But let’s consider just for a moment what the doctor did in the pilot to get the outcome she thought was “best.”
During this first episode, 14−year−old Susie Demarco, played by Nadia Alexander, enters the hospital after passing out. She is pregnant, which is something that is frowned upon by her community and which might get Susie’s boyfriend in trouble with her father. Susie also risks losing her scholarship to a prestigious high school.
Though Devlin’s boyfriend, Dr. Robinson — played by “Friday Night Lights” actor Zach Gilford — would have told Susie’s father the truth, Grace encourages Robinson to lie and tell Susie’s father that she fainted because of an ovarian cyst. Yes, Dr. Devlin lies to her patient’s father about his daughter’s condition. The show’s morals are more than slightly suspect.
Writers Josh Berman and Rob Wright executed a predictable and uniform pilot: they introduced a lead character, added some intrigue and created as many subplots as an audience can handle. By the third episode, a few select subplots will doubtlessly come into focus as some are abandoned. If these writers want to keep their show afloat, they ought to add more sincerity to the show’s familial relationships will and should strongly consider adding a hint of realism to Dr. Devlin’s romantic and professional relationships. Perhaps the show should even consider cutting a few characters, as this might allow Berman and Wright an opportunity to expand on the show’s leads. Character development has long been one of FOX’s weaknesses, after all.
A doctor can save lives, but an audience won’t save “Mob Doctor” if the series doesn’t get CPR, stat.