ABC's new show, Black Box, takes a very talented actress Kelly Reilly, throws her into today's latest trend, shows with female leads who have emotional and mental disorders (The Bridge, Homeland...), and fills the show with an unpredictable structure filled with unlikeable characters and no real follow through on the science. Story problems include a far too loyal fiance who sticks by Catherine through clear evidence that she's not committed, a spectacularly egotistical neurosurgeon, Dr. Bickman, and very dark subject matter that never really finds the light. Points for Vanessa Redgrave, however.
FINAL VERDICT: SKIP IT!
The new ABC television show Black Box is created by Amy Holden Jones, the writer of Mystic Pizza, whose father was a cancer researcher and bipolar. This would seem to indicate a kind of autobiographical sincerity, but the execution is all over the map. Serious medical issues are treated sometimes seriously, sometimes with gleeful humor. Executive produced by Bryan Singer, the show has a resemblance to House, though the audience is less in on the investigative diagnosis angle, simply being told what the problem and solution are, rather than discovering the clues along with the characters. Often each episode shows two patients, the first of which is extremely overdramatized and the second barely analyzed, with the resolution being acceptance of a medical condition, which strains credibility. It is difficult to play a mental handicap, and Kelly Reilly, who was so excellent in Flight, has her performance shift from calm to crazy at the drop of a hat, going from 0 to 60 in no seconds flat, which is the same for the tone of the show. Black Box has so many problems they might name a disease after it.
FINAL VERDICT: SKIP IT!
Black Box, created by the very talented Amy Holden Jones of Mystic Pizza fame, details the personal struggles of talented and bipolar neuroscientist Dr. Black. Unfortunately, compared to Mystic Pizza this show feels a little undercooked. Dr. Black (Kelly Reilly) is well developed, but most of the supporting characters are not. Dr. Ian Bickman (Ditchy Davey) the attractive, risky, bad boy doctor is practically lifted straight out of Grey's Anatomy. Other characters have stiff wooden personalities. Dialogue is not tightly written, and some really awful lines are scattered throughout the show--delivered with equally underwhelming performances. The plotting is often perfunctory: plot points are missing; cures to patient's psychological issues are flimsy and nonsensical; many characters are ignored for large chunks of an episode. This is a good rough draft for a television show, but it does not feel like a finished product. Kelly Reilly is quite good, and some of the psychological cases are interesting. This is a mediocre show.
FINAL VERDICT: STREAM IT.