Fall 2012 Pilot Review: The Mob Doctor

Premise: Tough-talking surgeon Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) makes enemies wherever she goes. People at work find her domineering. She’s insensitive towards her mother. And, oh yeah – the mob is kind of after her. Specifically, they’re after her brother, whose unspecified dealings have landed the Devlin family in their debt. So, when an enemy of the mob lands himself in Grace’s operating room, they call in a favour. And it’s up to Grace to decide whether or not she wants to take them up on it.

My expectations going in: Low. I’m not a fan of medical dramas (the surgery scenes make me queasy). And while I am a fan of crime dramas when done well, they’re usually pretty hackneyed.

My thoughts: This is a solid if uninspired entry in the network crime drama oeuvre. The problem is that we also have cable shows like Homeland and Breaking Bad that cover similar territory in a much more unique and nuanced way.

Let’s start with the good. Grace is an interesting character. There are layers there that could definitely be developed as the series goes on. And Jordana Spiro is a unique, charismatic actress who’s never really gotten her due, aside from the surprisingly long-lived My Boys. If The Mob Doctor gets the chance to develop, she could definitely go to some interesting places with this character. Even in this pilot, there were some hints of complexity that I wasn’t expecting. None of the other characters feel nearly as well-rounded yet, but I suppose that would come with time.

The writing is decent. It’s nothing great, and there were certainly some clichéd lines of dialogue that wouldn’t fly in a better show. But things moved along at a good pace, and it was all engaging enough. It’s definitely possible that this show pulled out a couple too many stops and surprises (a car chase!) in the first episode. But if they can build on that, it could become a worthy thriller.

It’s also worth noting that this show has a surplus of handsome brunette dudes. One such dude is Zach Gilford. I am a diehard Friday Night Lights fan, so I root for pretty much everyone in that cast to make it in a post-FNL world. And though it is a little strange to see Matt Saracen talking about hymens and strutting around the O.R. in scrubs, Gilford does a nice job playing Grace’s boyfriend. Of course, his character will inevitably find out about her dealings with the mob. And given the morally questionable decision he made in this pilot episode about a patient, I imagine he might be persuaded to come along for the ride. Other handsome brunette dudes in this episode were far less memorable, though I kind of like that the writers only showed us a little bit of Grace’s brother and left us guessing about him.

The Mob Doctor (which has a really stupid name, by the way) was more compelling than I expected. It all feels very competent, and I even felt the suspense that they were going for in certain moments. But pretty much everything about the show, from the acting to the direction, felt just adequate. Not bad, but not great. It even has the standard-issue TV drama score. The pilot occasionally hinted at bigger and better, but ultimately, it just felt like the kind of crime thriller we’ve seen too many times before.

Chances of Survival?: Not great. I give it about ten episodes before it gets cancelled. The public seems to favour star power and/or soapy storylines in their network dramas, and I don’t think this one will keep their interest.

Will I watch again?: Probably not. I enjoyed the pilot well enough, but it’s not really my thing. It seems like it’ll probably maintain a fairly high level of intrigue and suspense, but that it’ll do so in some fairly expected ways.



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