Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall TV Preview: Fox

Fox Fall 2012 Schedule

Fox is in a fairly good place right now, with their strong Sunday animation line-up which continues to perform well, their musical competition shows, several strong comedies, and an interesting dramatic double-feature on Fridays.  At least one of -- and depending what you read, both of -- Fox's new Tuesday night comedies have also managed to garner good buzz, and that's always a boost.

Monday nights on Fox at 9pm brings a new half-medical/half-crime drama to life.  The Mob Doctor is exactly what it sounds like -- the saga of a doctor who gets involved with the Mob.  Jordana Spiro (Must Love Dogs, My Boys, Dexter) stars as Dr. Grace Devlin, a brilliant young surgeon who's forced into cahoots with Chicago mobsters to help pay off her brother's gambling debts.  By day she's helping her regular patients with life-threatening situations, and by night she's catering to banged-up gangsters and ailing ladies-of-the-night.  Her bifurcated work life is a strain, making it increasingly difficult to maintain the pretense and keep her mob connections a secret from her co-workers.  Her swanky doctor boyfriend played by Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights) certainly can't find out, nor can her nurse best friend played by Floriana Lima (Franklin & Bash, Glory Daze).  It also wouldn't be good if the head of Surgery at the hospital found out either, and we're thrilled to see the wonderful Zeljko Ivanek (Damages, Big Love, True Blood, The Event, 24, John Adams) co-starring in the role.  Nor should Jaime Lee Kirchner (Rent, Just Legal) playing Grace's hospital nemesis find out, either.  And you better add to the "can't find out" list Dr. Devlin's kid brother, played by Jesse Lee Soffer (Two of a Kind opposite the Olsen twins, As the World Turns, The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel), and her mother, played by Wendy Makkena (Sister Act, State of Play).  

Who does know about Grace's walk on the wild side is a more select list, including a contract killer with a conscience and a whole lot of ambition, played by the always interesting William Forsythe (Dick Tracy, Boardwalk Empire, Raising Arizona).  Grace also has an ex-boyfriend who works for Forsythe's character, making her double life even more fraught with dangerous intrigue.  James Carpinello (Felicity, lots of Broadway like Saturday Night Fever and Rock of Ages).  The Mob Doctor didn't get a lot of love from its premiere last Monday night, but the season is young.  However, we all know that first impressions are important, and Fox is definitely hoping that The Mob Doctor can do better the second time out.  The Mob Doctor premiered on Monday, 9/17/12 at 9pm, and continues in the time slot.

Fox debuts a new comedy in the Tuesday 8:30pm time period.  Ben and Kate is either incredibly adorable and heartwarming or ham-handed and annoying, and it's probably actually a little of both, right?  The premise sounds a little of the latter -- a young single woman who had a daughter and dropped out of college is surprised when her devil-may-care immature older brother comes to live with her.  It's a culture clash, a parenting-style clash, as no-nonsense Kate vs. let-it-all-hang-out Ben find out that they really do love each other a lot and that their unconventional household arrangement might just work out for all of them.  It's based on the real-life adventures of creator Dana Fox and her brother, and is produced by the folks who brought you New Girl, which could also send you into heaven or else violent convulsions.  I like New Girl, yet somehow I hate it a little, too, but Ben and Kate supposes that you enjoy watching comedies with kids. 

Dakota Johnson (The Social Network, 21 Jump Street) plays Kate, and Nat Faxon (Bad Teacher, Reno 911!, and Oscar-winning co-screenwriter for The Descendants) is Ben.  Maggie Elizabeth Jones (We Bought a Zoo, Footloose) is Kate's little daughter Maddie.  Kate's best friend is played by Lucy Punch (The Class, Ella Enchanted), and Ben has his own best friend in Tommy, played by improv comedian Echo Kellum (Upright Citizens Brigade).  You know how comedy is -- either it hits you or it doesn't, it's a very personal genre -- so will the adorableness of Ben and Kate delight you or the just the opposite?  We think you ought to watch once to find out.  Ben and Kate premieres on Tuesday, 9/25/12 at 8:30pm.  

The Mindy Project is Fox's other new comedy.  It gets the Tuesday 9:30pm slot after New Girl, and is also getting lots of positive critical attention.  It's from Mindy Kaling (actress/writer/director on The Office) and she plays an OB/GYN who is trying to balance her super-charged professional life with her personal life which is not quite so buttoned-up.  Not another show with a doctor, please...but there it is.  I know why medicos are favorite subjects -- the audience figures that the real problems that people have -- mostly financial, of course -- aren't an issue with doctors so they can be saddled with other relatively petty concerns that make terrific comedy fodder.  I get it, I'm just sort of sick of it.  But, yes, it is Mindy Kaling, which turns this up a notch.  From the description this is one comedy that's firmly rooted in the mindset of the 1% -- Mindy's best friend is the Governor's daughter -- and I'm going to be churlish about that point, so there.  One of the clips on the ABC site is all about Dr. Mindy complaining about poor patients wasting her time -- I guess that's funny to somebody.  

Chris Messina (HBO's The Newsroom, Damages, Six Feet Under, Julie and Julia) is one of Mindy's office colleagues.  British actor Ed Weeks (The IT Crowd) is another OB/GYN, a notorious womanizer, comic actor Ike Barinholtz (Eastbound & Down, MADtv) is a male nurse, veteran actor Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day, Memento, Glee) is the owner of the practice, and Anna Camp (True Blood, The Help, The Good Wife) plays Mindy's pal the Governor's daughter.  Enough said -- you will either fall in love with Mindy Kaling and The Mindy Project or you won't.  Will it turn out to be Sex in the City meets Scrubs?  I don't think there'd be any cure for that.   The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays at 9:30pm.  

Next up, the perennially youthful CW Network!

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