The broadcast networks have more than 20 shows debuting this fall, including a Revolution-ary drama from J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke, a Nashville home for Connie Britton and a new comedy from Friends‘ Matthew Perry. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions based on the not-for-review pilots. Next up on our list…
THE SHOW | Fox’s The Mob Doctor (Mondays at 9/8c, premiering Sept. 17)
THE COMPETITION | 2 Broke Girls/Mike & Molly (CBS), Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars (ABC), The Voice (NBC), Major Crimes (new, TNT) and Gossip Girl (The CW)
THE CAST | Jordana Spiro (My Boys), William Forsythe (Boardwalk Empire), Zeljko Ivanek (Damages), Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights), Jaime Lee Kirchner (Mercy), Wendy Makkena (NCIS) and others
THE SET-UP | Spiro plays a lawyer for the LAPD. No, I’m just yanking your chain — she’s Grace Devlin, a surgeon compelled to serve as a doctor for a South Chicago mob, to offset a debt incurred by her scalawag brother Nate (As the World Turns‘ Jesse Lee Soffer).
THE FIRST IMPRESSION | There is a show to be found in this concept, to be sure, but the pilot never quite gave me what I expected. I envisioned vignettes where Grace must report to one sketchy location or another to improv patch-up jobs on assorted thugs — “Look, she’s suturing Vinny ‘No Nose’ with fishing line!” — but the first episode only offers a hint of that and instead plays a huge card right off the bat: What if the mob wanted Grace not to save a life but purposely end one? A provocative (if here dramatically protracted) conundrum, yes, but now what will we do for November sweeps?
Among the cast, Spiro is alternately plucky and fierce (a bit more Anna Torv than Sarah Jones), and she will — if only because of the Windy City setting — evoke melancholy memories of My Boys‘ PJ. (Spiro, though, has said that Grace more likely cheers on the Sox versus the Cubbies.) Forsythe is suitably domineering as the crime kingpin who (anvil alert!) it turns out has a haunting connection to Grace’s past, and Ivanek is of course solid (but of course has had meatier roles). Kirchner is given something interesting to do, playing neither Grace’s “person” nor a hissy rival but a sometimes-prickly something in between, while Gilford, as Grace’s doctor beau, is likeable but you just know the boy is gonna be lied to and have his heart crushed again and again. Makkena, as the Devlin family matriarch, was relegated to momentum-killing home scenes.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | The
CIA Figure Skater Mob Doctor will need to work hard to properly take the baton from Dr. Gregory House and settle in as Fox’s new Monday medical drama — and in a time slot where the network has had trouble launching series. With the well-watched Broke Girls and those possibly noisy Dancing all-stars commanding returning eyeballs, it could be prudent to keep the paddles handy.