Monday, September 17, 2012

'The Mob Doctor'

Two things that reliably succeed on network TV are medical dramas and crime dramas, so it was probably inevitable that some enterprising producers would combine the two in one of the most calculated, least interesting new shows of the season. The Mob Doctor is a mediocre medical drama crossed with a pretty ludicrous crime show, and the contrast between the two just highlights how untenable it all is. Star Jordana Spiro has enough charisma to make up for some of the rough spots, but even she can't entirely compensate for the terrible dialogue and heavy-handed, implausible plotting.

The idea of a young medical resident moonlighting as a back-alley doctor for criminals isn't necessarily a bad one; it could open up the typical medical procedural formula by providing two different kinds of cases to focus on. The first episode of The Mob Doctor opens that way, as Spiro's Dr. Grace Devlin deals with a criminal who's got a screwdriver wedged in his skull, and then heads over to her upscale hospital job. But the show quickly degenerates into trumped-up melodrama, as Grace clashes with a menacing mobster played by guest star Michael Rapaport, is ordered to kill one of her patients at the hospital and then makes a dangerous bargain with another mobster (William Forsythe) in order to keep her family safe.

The producers seem to think they're making the medical version of The Sopranos, but Grace's moral dilemmas are pretty laughable, and the shocking reveal at the end of the episode is obvious and lame. A simple medical procedural with mob elements might have been unexciting, but it could at least have been sort of effective. By reaching for something more grandiose, The Mob Doctor completely falls flat.

Premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox.