The Mob Doctor
Monday | 9:00 pm | FOX
FOX’s The Mob Doctor has already been made fun of for its hokey title, but I found myself pleasantly surprised with the pilot. The show stars Jordan Spiro, of my beloved My Girls, as a Chicago surgeon who’s also working for the mob to pay off her brother’s debts. William Forsythe co-stars as Constantine Alexander, the newly reappointed mob king (after taking out the competition).
Spiro is an appealing lead actress as Grace Devlin. Matt Zoller Seitz over at Vulture summed it up best already: Grace is a dame, not a babe. Indeed, her best scenes are when she’s at her most confident, the opening scene of a screwdriver-to-the-head removal, and most of her hospital scenes. Through some heavy-handed chatting with Constantine (who pays her to inject his insulin) we learn that that’s our central theme: power. Power that corrupts, power that makes great men who are bad men. It’s interesting to see where Grace feels power. In the hospital scenes, she’s in control of her domain. She orders around coworkers, reports her sketchy boss, lies to help a girl from her own neighborhood with a “Death Star” pregnancy (obviously my favorite scene). Clearly, Grace doesn’t mind breaking the law as long as it fits her own moral codes.
The tension really comes from the sense that despite growing up with it, Grace is in completely over her head with mob (despite one jarring and ridiculous chase sequence). Once the situation gets past her her moral code, she literally hides behind Constantine to protect her from Moretti. She’s then shocked when he kills Moretti and claims her debt to him. The imagery is strikingly childlike, but immediately contrasts with flashbacks to her as an actual child, fairly unfeeling at the sight of her own murdered father. Seitz also commented that the more the show becomes about Grace’s internal struggle, the better it will be, and I agree. Grace doesn’t seem to have any compunction about breaking some laws, and as she gets in deeper with the mob and her father-figure Constantine, it will interesting to see where her code stays firm and where it wavers.
Also, more importantly, how long can she hang on to the darling Matty Saracen as her boyfriend? (FNL vets retain their character names for life, it’s a fact.) After much I am disappointed in you eyes, he agreed to keep the dad in the dark about the Death Star pregnancy, but that was for the good of a swimming scholarship. I highly doubt he’ll be up to dealing with the more unsavory types Grace is sure to encounter. Plus, Franco Whatshisface is lurking on the sidelines.
While I tend toward the optimistic side, there are plenty of things that could potentially turn me off the show. The writing is a bit cheesy, plus the heavy-handed bits, but few pilots can manage to set up an entire plot and cast of characters without veering there a bit. Things could take a turn for the super-procedural, which always turns me off as well. But I like most of the cast, especially the leads, and that often sells me on things that are less than perfect.
Long Term Prediction:
Unless things take a turn for the preposterous, or they kill off Matty Saracen, I’m there with bells on. (Oh wait, that’s my cell phone.)