I got a chance to get tickets for the Paley Center Fall TV Preview of FOX’s new shows last night (thanks to The Skint for sending out emails with awesome events all the time!). After a quick intro from the Paley Center and then from a FOX executive, we watched three of FOX’s new shows back-to-back-to-back. I thought, since they asked for feedback at the time, that I would review them online instead of on their feedback form. My handwriting is terrible and I have more to say than the space I was given. Here you go, FOX, this is honest feedback from a 25-year-old woman living in the NYC area. I don’t have cable so I think I watch network television at a disproportionately higher rate than my peer group.
The Mob Doctor: I enjoy mob-related things. I love The Godfather and Road to Perdition, and I even enjoyed The Black Donnellys more than I should have. For that reason, I went into this show with high hopes, but I think it came up short. For one thing, I found it hard to believe that everything that happened in the first episode (a fair amount) took place without the main character even taking a nap. I get it, she’s a great surgeon, but it’s established pretty quickly that pre-episode drama she had just finished a 24-hour shift. At least I think so, her token BFF-colleague mentioned she had finished “a 24”. Considering the drama, emotions and action of the pilot, she should have been exhausted, adrenaline be damned.
There was a nice plot twist that I didn’t see coming (either it was nice or I’m not very perceptive and should have seen it coming), but I don’t know if the show is going to last. I don’t know if I’d be invested in seeing how the “Mob Doctor” balances her job and her mafia ties week after week. And I think her spunky, rulebook-be-damned-I-do-things-my-way attitude could get grating quickly. About halfway through the episode, in about the eighth or ninth shot of her walking with attitude, I found myself missing the other blonde-that-knows-how-to-strut on FOX, my favorite, Olivia Dunham.
Mob Doctor, however, deserves a few spots of praise. One, they did a good job of establishing the series’ major players without being too overwhelming or too contrived. The romance aspect wasn’t overdone, and I found the ensemble characters likable for the most part. They also get brownie points for naming their main character Dr. Devlin, and featuring Zeljko Ivanek, aka Governor Devlin on OZ, in a supporting role.
I’ll give Mob Doctor a B-. There’s lots of room for improvement, but I’m not sure if I’ll tune in to see it.
Ben and Kate: I had only briefly heard of this show and assumed it was an Up All Night knockoff. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the couple-raising-young-child dynamic was shaken up a little bit and the couple in question is a sister and brother. The sister’s daughter is adorable. She has a bit of an attitude, but not in an obnoxious way (she reminds me of Rose from Better Off Ted, if you’re one of the three people that watched that show). In unrealistic-lodgings-land, the sister (Kate, of course), appears to live in a pretty nice house with her daughter, paying her rent or mortgage by…working as a waitress and a bar/restaurant type. I know I live in an expensive city, but no way in heck would a waitress raising a child on her own be able to afford that (at least on Gilmore Girls they explained their nice house away by having Lorelai running an inn, not cleaning it).
My main critique is that the pilot spent a lot of time establishing the brother/sister relationship but not so much on either of their relationships with her daughter. The show is about their dynamic, I get that, but I think the Kate character would have been more sympathetic if we had seen her interacting with her daughter a bit more.
Beyond that, the show was endearing. I think there is a lot of room for character growth, and hopefully they can come up with some fun storylines that aren’t too sitcom-y and formulaic. Also? The best friends stole the show: “BJ” is a brassy blonde with a foreign accent, and Tommy is cute and fun to watch (and looks enough like Richard Ayoade to keep me interested, because I’m shallow). I sincerely hope that they stick around: I looked both actors up on IMDB and they don’t seem to be otherwise occupied, so I’m glad there won’t be another New Girl/Damon Wayans situation.
Ben and Kate gets a B. I’ll give it a few episodes before I commit one way or another.
The Mindy Project: This was the one I was most excited about and why I picked the FOX previews over some of the other networks. I loved Mindy Kaling’s work on The Office, and after reading her book I was anticipating her own TV show. I thought it was a lot of fun! Her character clearly reflects who she is as a person in terms of personality (not the OBGYN part, obviously), and the writing was crisp. I think, of the two comedies, this one got a lot more laughs in the theater. Where, at times, I felt the actors in the Mob Doctor were going through their dialogue too quickly and running into each other’s lines, the directing on TMP was better (I guess it helps that Mindy has her Office flame Ryan/B.J. Novak working on it too). The characters were pretty well developed in a short amount of time, even the ones that were only in a scene or two. Mindy’s love interest(s) are very different from each other but I could see her pairing up with either one of them, the chemistry between her and her frenemy doctor was especially good.
My only worry is that this show too could get formulaic (do we really need another group of doctors on our TV screen), but I have faith in Kaling that she’ll keep it fresh. Since the actress lived in my old neighborhood when she lived in the city, I would love to see some shots of Brooklyn, but that may be too much to hope for.
The Mindy Project gets an A- and I “I’ll watch it until it gives me a reason not to” vote.
The Mob Doctor premieres on September 17th. Both Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project are streaming their first episode in advance of their airdate, and you can check them out this weekend. And while you’re on the FOX website, please check out Raising Hope. It’s my favorite show on the network (after Fringe, of course, but that one is surely done after this upcoming half-season), and I feel that it’s always in danger of being cancelled. So go watch that one, please.