The Mob Doctor made me wish local broadcasting legend Ernie Anderson were still alive.
The Fox drama, premiering at 9 p.m. Monday, stars Jordana Spiro as Grace Devlin, the top resident at a Chicago hospital, someone who cares more about her patients than about rules, procedures and hospital politics. But where feisty rule breakers have long been commonplace in TV, Grace has another side.
She is, in fact, a mob doctor. Her brother Nate (Jesse Lee Soffer) has run up a debt to local gangster Paul Moretti (Michael Rapaport) and cannot pay it off. To settle the debt, Grace has agreed to help out the bad guys with things like stitching up injuries that regular doctors are better off not knowing about.
Nor is this Grace’s only criminal connection. Former mobster Constantine Alexander (William Forsythe) is an old friend, and protector, of Grace and her family, and someone she still turns to for advice.
But in the series premiere, things get very difficult for Grace. Not only does she have a regular medical case that may require keeping secrets, Moretti wants her to make sure that an incriminating witness does not get out of surgery alive. So how can Grace hold onto what remains of her moral code while keeping Moretti from bringing the pain?
The answer is moderately complicated and more than a little silly. So is the show, for the most part. Spiro is adequate but no more than that, although Forsythe is good and the supporting cast also includes the likes of Zach Gilford and Zeljko Ivanek. The action precedes in mostly predictable ways, and I am hard-pressed to see how it can keep its premise feeling fresh every week. Nor is it clever enough to be a good match with Bones, the series preceding it on Fox, which has a suspenseful season premiere on Monday.
Now, about Anderson. While you may remember him as TV host Ghoulardi, he was also long a voice in commercials for ABC and sundry products, No one said “the luvvvv boat” or “Cougar — the man’s car” like Anderson. And I would have loved to hear him say “the mob, doc-tor.” At least, that’s how I keep saying it; this is hardly my favorite new show, but it definitely has my favorite title. I just can’t say it with the zest Anderson would have had.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can reach him at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.