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It’s hard to fault series creators who want to avoid the obvious — like making yet another hospital drama. Sometimes a tired genre just needs a little shaking up. But in Fox’s new series, The Mob Doctor, trying to reinvent the wheel has led to a truly flat idea.
See, she’s a doctor. But she also works for the mob. In case that was unclear, the show is called The Mob Doctor. (It was formerly called Mob Doctor, but they Fox put “The” in the title, apparently for clarity’s sake).
Jordana Spiro plays Dr. Grace Devlin (a little good and evil in that name), who saves people at a Chicago hospital by day and also saves whoever and whatever the mob needs her to when they need her to — night or day. Turns out Grace’s little brother Nate (Jesse Lee Sopher) got in too deep on the gambling, and Grace apparently is paying that debt off as a private doctor to the bad guys. It’s a testament to how little the mostly lifeless pilot grabs you that when Grace is offered a free pass at the end of the episode, you’re stunned that she doesn’t take it and laugh her way out of Chicago. We’re meant to believe that Grace can’t leave because her life is in the Windy City, but based on the people she interacts with — including her family — there’s no compelling reason to stay. Work is a headache, and she’s battling both her boss and another (pointlessly bitchy) doctor there. Her boyfriend (Zach Gilford) also works there, but there’s absolutely no chemistry in that lab. Her mom’s a nag, and her brother got her into this in the first place. Honey, take the plane ticket.
If she did, of course, then Fox wouldn’t have a show. But does it really have a show in Mob Doctor? Mostly, it’s a hospital drama — and a rote one at that. The side job stitching up bad guys seems tacked on for no reason, like racing flames on a Prius. Yeah, yeah, it’s different. It’s not just a hospital drama. See, she’s a doctor and she works for the … oh, never mind.
The truly odd thing about The Mob Doctor is there’s a pretty good show sitting right there inside the pilot. The wonderful William Forsythe plays a mob boss, and every time the camera is on him and every time he talks, you want the show to be about him. Leave the doctor behind. Call it The Mob Boss and you’ve got something.
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