The Mob Doctor: In or Out? Up to Fox...

Jordana Spiro, the doctor in the house.
Here is the lowdown of the show The Mob Doctor. I am a lazy man, so I am letting Fox give you the recap, but I will then offer my opinion of the show, a sketchy one because you really can't get a good feel for a show by watching the pilot. Look at the first episode of The Sopranos. So I won't race to judgment here and now.

DR. GRACE DEVLIN (Jordana Spiro) is a top resident at Chicago’s Roosevelt Medical Center. Smart and self-assured, she’s heralded as one of the country’s most promising young surgeons. But family ties keep her glued to her Southside roots. To pay off her brother’s life-threatening gambling debt, she makes a deal with the devil and agrees to work “off book” for the mafia men she once despised.
"The ghost of Joe Colombo is still with us. Ever wonder why we don't have shows named: "Mafia Wives," "I Married a Mafioso" or "The Mafia Doctor?" ... I think it is Hollywood performing an act of political correctness."
Forsythe provides the needed weight.

At the hospital, Grace must deal with emotionally compelling cases – a young woman in need of a heart transplant, a family decimated by a hit-and-run driver, the mass chaos in the wake of an ‘L’ train collision. But in her other vastly different world, she must juggle an onslaught of mob-related demands, including operating in illegal backrooms, treating hit men hiding from the law, performing emergency surgery on a high-end call girl, even saving a juiced-up race horse...

As Grace tries to heed the demands of these two conflicting worlds – not to mention the needs of her own slightly dysfunctional family – her moral center comes into direct conflict with the very immoral things she’s asked to do. But with nerves of steel and a tough-as-nails exterior, she somehow will manage to make it all work – at least for now.

The ghost of Joe Colombo is still with us. Ever wonder why we don't have shows named: "Mafia Wives," "I Married a Mafioso" or "The Mafia Doctor?" Well, I have and I think it is Hollywood performing an act of political correctness. The word "Mafia" is Italian-sounding; "mob" is not. So the thinking goes Mafia denigrates all Italians, to take a shortcut. I think that's bunk.

Now about the show... Not Italian enough, too many characters and subplots, and of course not enough Mafia. But this was the pilot, remember. A show has to to find its footing if a network gives it long enough, and I think this show has the potential to if Fox is patient enough. [Remember King of Queens? There was a sister in the first couple of episodes who was quietly cut and never referred to again.]

The big saving grace is the wonderful William Forsythe; I am taking a leap here, but I think his well-rounded (in the literal and figurative sense!) character Manny Horvitz was killed off in Boardwalk Empire (he played a Jewish racketeer, who seemed to specialize in murder) deliberately because Forsythe wanted to leap into a potential hit TV show on a major network. He lends the weight as the soft spoken Don Alexander that the show needs. Why isn't his name Italian???

This is a potential spoiler here - but I think his character is actually the father of The Mob Doctor, played by Jordana Spiro, who was wonderful in the indie horror flick Alone With Her, in which she plays the wisecracking friend who dies nastily.

Overall reviews seem split, though with many seeming to lean more toward the less-than-positive. But I think this concept is excellent; the dramatic potential is imponderable. One thing I didn't know: It is actually based on a book, "Il Dottore: The Double Life of a Mafia Doctor." Maybe if they stick closer to the book and to the show's writers' imaginations, and drop the formulaic plots that make these TV shows seem like they are written by a committee, they may have something interesting on their hands.

And notice the name of the book; it has the word "Mafia" in it.