For four seasons, Jordana Spiro headlined TBS’ My Boys, an underrated comedy with a genre-defying female heroine that proved to TV audiences (no matter how small) that women are more than just shoes and pratfalls. So it’s more than disappointing to see the actress top-billed on a series that toes the medical drama line, offering little more to differentiate itself than a seemingly unsustainable twist.
Granted, in The Mob Doctor’s defense, the medical market is a tough one to enter. In the past 10 years alone, we’ve already seen hospital shows that center around complex antiheroes (House, Nurse Jackie), hormone-raging sexpots (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice), benevolent adventure-seekers (Off the Map), and seriously f**ked-up individuals (Childrens Hospital). Add to that ER’s 15 seasons centering on several sexy, f**ked-up antiheroes who seek adventure in the latest ridiculous helicopter crash to befall their hospital, and there’s little ground left to cover.
But Mob Doctor tries. And you truly have to give it credit for that. Centering on Dr. Grace Devlin (Spiro) — a talented, desirable surgeon with a deadbeat, less-than-desirable family — Mob Doctor fuses the medical soap with the mafia drama, attempting to bounce between Grace’s love and professional life and impossible relationship with the local mob outside Chicago. Obligated to fulfill her brother’s (Jesse Lee Soffer) debt to the gangsters via medical treatments, Grace finds herself constantly dipping into a moral gray area — especially when she’s ordered by gangster Paul Moretti (Michael Rapaport) to murder a witness in the ER.
It’s no doubt an interesting premise that could captivate your attention for a 90-minute movie, but its sustainability is questionable. Especially since the series is already forced to water down its central plotline with predictable doctor-on-doctor romance and case-of-the-week mysteries. (The first? A teenage virgin turns up pregnant! Dr. House sees this and raises it an MP3 player in the ass.) After all, the show has to give the “mob” and “doctor” equal time.
The result is an uneven, if well-meaning, series that’s too ambitious for its own good, hardly filling the Monday night void left behind by House. And it’s too bad, considering The Mob Doctor’s talent. Not only are Friday Night Lights fans still waiting for one of its Dillon Panthers to break out in Hollywood (Zach Gilford — who plays Grace’s loving, but impatient, boyfriend, Dr. Brett Robinson — saw ABC’s Off the Map come and go), but Spiro is far too charming an actress to see another series flatline. Not to say Mob Doctor would allow her to fully show off her talents. Any fan of Spiro’s work on My Boys would notice Spiro’s flare for comedy tragically missing from the new Fox series.
Still, its cast tries, and Spiro does boast a watchable chemistry with William Forsythe, who plays a former mob boss with a heart of gold. But when it comes to the doc-mob drama, if only we could take the cast and leave the ridiculous premise.
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[Image Credit: FOX]