The Mob Doctor “Pilot” Review

The Mob Doctor (FOX) Pilot Episode 1

In my head, I’ve found that I mentally prepare for writing reviews by asking myself, “Where to begin?” Sometimes, that mental voice is excited. Other times, it’s exasperated. I think this is one of those times when the voice is more on the exasperated side.

The Mob Doctor stars Jordana Spiro as Dr. Grace Devlin, a thoracic surgeon who seems like she thinks she runs the hospital as well as its code of ethics. You’ll understand why I wrote this about her as you keep reading, but let me set up the overall story for you. Grace not only acts as a surgeon for regular patients, but she also has taken on her brother Nate’s (Jesse Lee Soffer) debt to a mobster by doing the mobster’s dirty work in the operating room. The draw of the show is supposed to be how she deals with both regular life and her life as a mob associate.

On paper, it sounds like it could be a good idea. The kicker is that while it’s already loose in theory, it really falls apart in practice. This pilot takes itself too seriously considering the plot it’s working with.

First of all, Grace acts like she runs the place, and it’s annoying. She’s not the head of surgery, since she does have a boss, Dr. Flanigan (David Pasquesi). However, she’s ordering her colleague, Dr. Olivia Watson (Jamie Lee Kirchner),  not to do what he says and to follow her orders. (Olivia hates Grace, by the way, probably because Grace seems to think she’s the best, most idealistic doctor ever.) I know the characterization of Flanigan is that he makes bad decisions when it comes to medicine, but he’s also the boss; how many bad decisions could he have made to still become what I assume to be the head of surgery?

The other instance of bulldozing happens when she goes against protocol and the wishes of her boyfriend, Dr. Brett Robinson (Zach Gilford) and tells a young teenage girl’s father that she has a ruptured ovarian cyst instead of what’s really going on–a fluke pregnancy. We’re supposed to sympathize with Grace’s point of view of trying to save the girl’s chances at going to private school on her swimming scholarship, but in the real world, this would be an “Oh, well” moment. Things don’t always go the way you want them to, so why should this girl get a break? This sounds cold, but you can’t go against protocol because you’re over-empathizing. Basically, Grace’s actions are stupid. She’s every bit of Olivia’s description of her as “plucky;” Grace is plucky to a fault.

Secondly, if Grace is supposed to be a mob doctor, she’s obviously had to have killed someone before. When the series starts, we see her removing a screwdriver from a man’s head. We are led to believe that this guy has some dealings with the mob. Grace seems to be at peace to some degree with her new job, so if she’s relatively comfortable working with the mob, this means she’s done some tough, possibly terrible things, right?

Apparently not; apparently, the mob has only used her for flesh wounds. It’s not unreasonable to think that if she was in the mob’s debt, they would have asked her to kill someone by now. So when she’s presented with the job of killing off the rival mob boss, she chokes, as if she’s just recently been employed by the mob. By the way, in the beginning scene which establishes Grace’s double life as a mob doctor, she had an assistant with her. What the heck happened to that guy throughout the rest of the show?

Thirdly, the show seems disjointed. It wants to be a Hawthorne-esque medical drama, but it also wants to be a little like 24 due to the inexplicable car chase, usage of guns and criminal activity. Grace is too altruistic to have sold her soul to the mob, but she’s too reckless to be a successful doctor (in my eyes, anyway). Let’s not even start with her mobster friend Constantine Alexander (William Forsythe). We find out the most ridiculous plot twist ever about him.

As a kid, Grace found the body of her father in a field. Not only does she discover her fascination with bodies, but she also finds herself glad that her drunkard father is dead. Guess who killed him? Constantine did! So that‘s why he said she was like family to him! Ugh! And even though Constantine killed the mobster that was after Grace, Grace–for whatever reason–still seems to have some sort of debt to the mob. Isn’t her debt over? What’s going on here?!

The only good point I can give this show is the level of semi-realism with the surgeries. That point is also cancelled out by the usage of Bones-esque touch-screen computers. If hospitals actually do have this type of imaging technology, let me know in the comments section.  In any case, the scene of Grace looking at a 3D-generated heart on the screen was a little pointless. We get that she’s supposed to be a smart doctor and expert surgeon, okay?

There are two many plot holes and too little time. For instance, how did the mob’s inside guy get to be an orderly? If he’s medically competent to set up the syringes, why didn’t he just kill the mob boss? And what did the brother even do to get in trouble with the mob? There are tons of questions, but no answers.

Overall, I’m not so sure about this show’s staying power. We’ll see how long it stays on, but I think it might be gone sooner than you might expect. Lie to Me was also promising, and we saw how long it lasted.

  • Ben Anderson

    Between the two, I would watch Revolution.  Though, that’s not much of an endorsement.  My DVR recorded both and I watched them both, not a fan of either they both have some fatal flaws.  My coworker at DISH and I watched the shows last night, and I think Mob Doctor has a mildly interesting plot but it’s overly complex and the acting was flat all around. I was able to record both shows last night because I have the Hopper DVR with PrimeTime Anytime.  PrimeTime Anytime will automatically record all the shows in prime time from the four major networks without having to set a reminder for each show.  Revolution on the other hand had better acting but left so many unanswered plot questions.  Honestly, I will continue to DVR both and watch something else.

  • Wordygirl

    Well, I felt most of the same emotions you did.  I, too, find those heroines whose “grit” and “spunk” is shown by defying authority and going their own way very annoying.  (An exception was Jordan of Crossing Jordan, whose behavior was seen to be self-destructive not admirable.)  

    One reason I read your interview while I was still fairly irritated at this show is that I wanted to find out the relationship between Grace and Constantine–my mind must have wandered and I missed that.  So, thanks.  

    I believe Grace’s brother had huge gambling debts which he could not repay to the mob, so Grace agreed to be a mob doctor to “pay off” her brother’s debts.  Apparently when Constantine killed that mobster and took over his business holdings, he assumed Grace’s “contract” because the money owed to the former mobster would have been in his (Constantine’s) bank account if Grace’s brother had paid it back.  

    I’m not sure I agree with you that by this time Grace must have killed someone in her role as a mob doctor.  I think that a big part of what she does is treat people who can’t go through the usual medical process because to present to the ER would guarantee that the police would be notified of a gun shot wound, suspicious injury, etc.  I guess we’ll find out in future episodes.  I like Jordana Spiro, so I think I’ll give it a few more episodes.