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Commentary: Fox’s ‘The Mob Doctor’ commits crime of trying too hard

Courtesy of Fox

In the opening scene of Fox’s new drama “The Mob Doctor,” a man screams bloody murder as he lies on a table with a screwdriver wedged into his forehead. This is kind of what watching the show is like: a searing headache that’s only made better when someone yanks you free (or in this case, when the hourlong episode ends).

Monday’s pilot episode introduced us to Dr. Grace Devlin, a good-looking, tough-talking surgeon who moonlights as – you guessed it – a mob doctor, because she’s paying back the debt her brother owes to a mobster after some gambling mishap that never really gets explained.

The confusion definitely doesn’t stop there. Besides trying to keep her brother on hunky-dory terms with the Chicago mob, Grace, who is played by Jordana Spiro from the underrated TBS sitcom “My Boys,” has about five million other conflicts going on at once. Two of her co-workers threaten her after she blames them for killing a little boy, her mom is all up in her personal business, the mob wants her to kill one of her patients, she has flashbacks from the death of her alcoholic father AND her 14-year-old neighbor is pregnant. On top of all that drama, she’s trying to date her hunky co-worker, who is played by Zach Gilford, known for his role as Matt Saracen on NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” and barely looks old enough to be a doctor.

Forget Grace’s exhaustion though. Just trying to make it through the episode without your head spinning off your neck is tiring enough.

Given all she has to deal with, you would think the show’s creators would make their protagonist someone people would want to root for, but that’s just not the case. Grace’s moral compass is all out of whack, which is understandable given the mob versus medicine conflict of interest battle she’s fighting. The problem, though, is it’s pretty much impossible to feel any sympathy for her because she’s just not likeable. She’s extremely rigid about the rules when it comes to other people, and she judges them harshly if they break the standards of her moral code. But then she turns around and breaks those same rules without giving a second thought, repeatedly establishing herself as a hypocrite rather than a hero.

“The Mob Doctor” is a prime example of a show trying to do too much right off the bat (case in point: the high-speed car chase that came way out of left field). The show’s concept is actually not horrible. In fact, it could (and should) be much more appealing. If it can find its footing and stop trying to be five different shows at once, it might not be too late for “The Mob Doctor” to save itself. After all, it does have one secret weapon: an incredible cast. There are some really talented actors on hand here, such as Zeljko Ivanek as Dr. White, but the cast is unfortunately given awful material to work with.

After the episode ended, a teaser clip for the rest of the season played as a voice-over dramatically said, “Dr. Grace Devlin is living two lives. But how far will she go before it all comes crashing down?” I think the better question is, how far will this series go before it crashes and viewers decide they’ve had enough?

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