There is a lot riding on The Mob Doctor, the only new drama debuting on Fox this fall. The show shares some DNA with House, the ridiculously successful series which ended its run in May, including a prickly-but-brilliant doctor protagonist and a host of outré TV-land diseases (more on that later). Mob Doctor is taking over House‘s old Monday-at-9 slot, which means that Fox is probably looking to build off Bones — which is aging, but still earns healthy ratings — and create an unbeatable Monday block of medical crime. Just one problem: The series premiere of Mob Doctor wasn’t all that great. Still, it could have been worse. Here are three things that would have made the Doctor premiere even more of a mess:
1. If the cast was not ridiculously overqualified.
Star Jordana Spiro was the lead of the criminally underrated TBS sitcom My Boys. She’s a TV star just waiting for the right vehicle. I’m not sure Mob Doctor is that vehicle. Spiro is irrepressibly charming, and it feels like miscasting to give the role of Grace Devlin, a hard-edged morally-ambiguous wrong-side-of-the-tracks bootstrapper with daddy issues and a god complex but who really truly cares about cute kids. It’s sort of like mashing Meredith Grey and Walter White into one horrible Frankenstein’s Monster character, and then casting Jennifer Aniston.
Then again, I’m not sure anyone could play that role. Except maybe the essential Zeljko Ivanek, appearing as Grace’s boss. In the last ten years, Ivanek has stolen so many scenes from so many actors. He’s like the Carmen Sandiego of television. Also on the Doctor cast: William Forsythe, who always looks like he’s two seconds away from decapitating somebody with a butter knife.
2. If Dr. Devlin turned everything into a Star Wars metaphor.
Dr. Devlin had some bad news to deliver. One of her patients was a plucky teenager who Devlin used to babysit. Turned out that said plucky teenager was pregnant…despite still being a virgin. This biological abnormality required delicate explanation, and this is how Dr. Devlin chose to delicately explain:
Dr. Devlin: “Do you remember when we used to watch Star Wars at your place?”
Plucky Teenager: “Tee-hee! Yeah!”
Dr. Devlin: “Well, do you remember that scene where Luke pops that one-in-a-million shot, and it goes straight through the air duct and blows up the entire Death Star?”
Plucky Teenager: “…Yeah.”
Dr. Devlin: “Okay, well, because of your anatomy, it’s something called a fimbriated hymen, you are like the Death Star. You see, you have this air duct that has the potential to be penetrated, even if you’re not doin’ it, full-on.”
Plucky Teenager: “”No way.”
Dr. Devlin: “It’s called…outercourse.”
Let’s track Plucky Teenager’s reaction to this news, shall we?
The moment Grace mentions Star Wars. Our plucky teenager loves Star Wars!
The moment when our plucky teenager’s world ends, after being told, “You have this air duct that has the potential to be penetrated.”
The moment she realizes that she can never watch Star Wars ever again.
Anyhow, imagine if Grace talked only in Star Wars metaphors. Imagine if she compared Irritable Bowel Syndrome to the ecosystem of Dagobah. Or if a man came in suffering from impotence, and she said, “Remember that time in Empire Strikes Back when the Millennium Falcon couldn’t achieve warp speed? Well, here’s some Viagra.” Or if she made any reference whatsoever to the Sarlacc Pit. That would have been much worse.
3. If Grace’s last name had been changed from “Devlin” to “Mobb.”
Which would, in turn, mean that every scene would begin with Grace introducing herself: “I’m Dr. Mobb, Mob Doctor.”
Fellow viewers, what did you think of Mob Doctor? Are you sticking around for a weekly Ivanek injection? Are Ivanek injections even legal in this country?
Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich