‘The Mob Doctor’ Pilot Recap: “Nobody Wants to Work with a Rat”

‘House’ retired earlier this year. I guess that means that Fox needs a new medical drama to fill the Monday night time slot. Oh hey, look at this; here comes ‘The Mob Doctor’. You know how much people like doctor shows, right? And you know how much people also like crime shows? What if – and let me know if you can follow me here – what if you could make a series that was both a doctor show and a crime show? That’d be, like, totally mind-blowing! Wouldn’t it?

I’m going to try to explain the premise of ‘The Mob Doctor’. It’s really complicated, so I’ll go slow. You see, it’s about this doctor, and… get this… she works for the Mob.

OK, I think that about covers it.

The show stars Jordana Spiro, formerly of the TBS sitcom ‘My Boys’. I’ve liked this actress ever since she did a short-lived series called ‘The Huntress’ about a mother/daughter pair of bounty hunters. (She was the daughter.) She was very charming in ‘My Boys’. I want to see her be successful. I think she deserves a shot at headlining a major network series. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure that this is going to be that breakout gig.

Spiro plays Dr. Grace Devlin, a hotshot Chicago surgeon whose only character flaw is that she just cares too darn much. The other jaded doctors at her hospital (including Zeljko “I Have to Be in Every TV Series on the Air” Ivanek) tell her that she “over-empathizes.” This has a tendency to get her into trouble. For example, when her fuckup brother falls deeply into debt with a mobster named Moretti (Michael Rapaport), Grace steps in to pay off that debt for him by working on the side as… yes, you got it… the Mob doctor.

Mostly, she patches up goombas when they get into scrapes. However, in the ‘Pilot’ episode, a former Mob lieutenant who’d been living in Witness Protection gets wheeled into her hospital after a heart attack. Grace is scheduled to do his heart surgery, until Moretti orders her to kill the guy… or else.

Of course, Grace is such a goody-goody that she can’t bring herself to do it. This gets her in hot water with Moretti. She goes running to a former Mob boss named Constantine (William Forsythe) who’s been like a father figure to her ever since he murdered her own drunken father. (Cue emotional childhood flashback.)

The episode (and the network’s promotion) spends a lot of time setting up Moretti as the Big Bad antagonist who will be a thorn in Grace’s side and her recurring nemesis. So, it’s legitimately surprising when Constantine shoots him dead at the end of the episode. The old Mob boss wants back in the game, and this was the perfect excuse. Arrivederci, Michael Rapaport.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the only surprise in the episode. Otherwise, the show is a very formulaic, by-the-numbers affair. Early buzz on the series from TV critics has been pretty toxic. I think some of that reaction is perhaps overstated. The ‘Pilot’ is actually much less awful than I expected. Nevertheless, it’s very generic, and I don’t feel any need to watch again.

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