Preview: The Mob Doctor (Fox) 1×1

A graft of a bad show onto a good show

The Mob Doctor

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, Fox. Starts tonight
In the UK: Not yet acquired.

Watching this, I could have sworn I’d mysteriously tuned into CBS by accident. No way could this be a Fox show. It has CBS fingerprints all over it.

But, no. It’s on Fox. It’s a procedural. It’s efficiently made, efficiently acted and has high production values, just like a CBS show. It has no need to be a procedural – as with CBS’s A Gifted Man which was originally a show about a haunted doctor, this has medical procedural grafted onto it. But a procedural it is, with My Boys‘ Jordana Spiro as a doctor who – in between being brilliant and saving lives – has to do some medical work for the mob, it being Chicago n’all, because her brother was in trouble and she now owes them a debt that she has to pay off.

Then, one day, a mob informer comes into her hospital for an operation and the mob want her to kill him while he’s on the operating table or else they’ll hurt her and her family. What’s a surgeon to do?

And actually, that’s not the show’s biggest ethical dilemma, because somehow – I know not how, particularly on Fox of all networks – one of the patients who comes to her is a teenage girl. Who’s had sex with her boyfriend. She’s now pregnant. It’s going to ruin her life.

And to its credit, despite every other unremarkable, uninvolving aspect of the show, The Mob Doctor not only countenances the idea of letting this girl have an abortion, the doctor goes ahead and performs ‘the operation’.

Here’s a trailer.

For most physicians, the Hippocratic oath is sacred. But for one Chicago doctor, who is indebted to the mafia, saving lives isn’t her only concern. THE MOB DOCTOR is a fast-paced medical drama focusing on a young female surgeon caught between two worlds as she juggles her promising medical career with her family’s debt to Chicago’s Southside mob.

DR. GRACE DEVLIN (Jordana Spiro) is a top resident at Chicago’s Roosevelt Medical Center. Smart and self-assured, she’s heralded as one of the country’s most promising young surgeons. But family ties keep her glued to her Southside roots. To pay off her brother’s life-threatening gambling debt, she makes a deal with the devil and agrees to work “off book” for the mafia men she once despised.

At the hospital, Grace must deal with emotionally compelling cases – a young woman in need of a heart transplant, a family decimated by a hit-and-run driver, the mass chaos in the wake of an ‘L’ train collision. But in her other vastly different world, she must juggle an onslaught of mob-related demands, including operating in illegal backrooms, treating hit men hiding from the law, performing emergency surgery on a high-end call girl, even saving a juiced-up race horse.

All the while, Grace must keep her dual life a secret from everyone: her protective best friend, NURSE ROSA “RO” QUINTERO (Floriana Lima); her handsome, blue-blooded boyfriend, DR. BRETT ROBINSON (Zach Gilford); her boss at Roosevelt Medical and Chief of Surgery, DR. STAFFORD WHITE (Željko Ivanek); her rival, DR. OLIVIA WILCOX (Jaime Lee Kirchner); even her well-meaning screw-up brother, NATE (Jesse Lee Soffer), and her perpetually in-denial mother, DANIELLA (Wendy Makkena).

The only ones who know the true scope of Grace’s activities are the men to whom Grace owes her debt, including the brutal Southside mob boss PAUL MORETTI (guest star Michael Rappaport) and the charming but diabolical CONSTANTINE ALEXANDER (William Forsythe), an oddly compassionate killer whose relationship with Grace is more than it seems. Recently released from prison, Constantine, the former head of the Southside mob, looks to reclaim his place in the organization, with the help of his right-hand associate – and Grace’s ex-boyfriend – FRANCO (James Carpinello).

As Grace tries to heed the demands of these two conflicting worlds – not to mention the needs of her own slightly dysfunctional family – her moral center comes into direct conflict with the very immoral things she’s asked to do. But with nerves of steel and a tough-as-nails exterior, she somehow will manage to make it all work – at least for now.

THE MOB DOCTOR is a production of Sony Pictures Television. The series is created and written by Josh Berman (“Drop Dead Diva,” BONES) and Rob Wright (“Drop Dead Diva,” “Crossing Jordan”). Berman, Wright and Emmy Award-winning director Michael Dinner (“Justified”) and Carla Kettner (BONES) are executive producers. Dinner directed the pilot.

Is it any good?
Nope. Sorry. It’s a big old snoozefest.

Unlike a whole load of bad shows – and even some good shows – I could mention that have just started or about to start, The Mob Doctor has a pretty good cast, with Spiro and the mighty Željko Ivanek as her mentor, for starters. Not everyone, but there’s a decent core.

It’s also got some decent characters, including Spiro’s disaster-area surgeon and Ivanek’s, although most are typically procedural-dull.

And if it could somehow steer itself away from being a procedural, it could become a halfway decent show. Instead, it’s a horrific mass of scar tissue – a botched operation that tries to marry the standard medical procedural with a mob drama and fails horribly. The procedural side of things is unremarkable: you will have seen it all before, although that bit of daring I mentioned upfront was an eye-opener. The writers try to liven it up with the possibility of Spiro becoming a medical malpractice whistleblower, but to no avail.

It’s fundamentally a show that’s trying to hedge its bets by trying to be two things, one very familiar, one less familiar, and has produced something that’s the worst of both worlds. If it could pick a side, I think it could be a strong show. At the moment, it’s something to forward wind through at best.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.