Review of "Black Box" on ABC From The TV MegaSite

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scene from Black Box

"Black Box" review by Suzanne
Airs Thursdays 10/9c on ABC

The person that came up with this idea had a good idea, but it's been implemented very poorly. I'm not saying it's not intriguing, but it's a big mess, much like the lead character herself. It's ultimately unsatisfying because it's not very realistic. It has fun performances and some good stories, but it's mostly all flash and little substance.

The show is a bit reminiscent of "House" or "Perception". It's about this world famous neurologist who runs this clinic specializing in neurology, yet she herself is bipolar. This is the description from the ABC web site: "Dr. Catherine Black (Kelly Reilly), world-famous neurologist, is at the top of her game. Each week, this beautiful and brilliant doctor will attempt to unravel the mysteries of the brain while hiding her own secret: she's bipolar."  The thing is, this is not an honest or accurate description. Even in the very first episode, she doesn't really hide her secret. She does a terrible job of it.

Kelly Reilly and the other actors do a great job, but the writing is not very good.  In the first episode, Dr. Black talks to her shrink (played by the wonderful Vanessa Redgrave - does she really need the money this bad?) about how she went off her meds when she presented a paper at this conference. She then had sex with a stranger and almost killed herself by falling off the hotel balcony.  Later, she goes off her meds again.  She tells her boyfriend that she's not good at controlling her condition. So how exactly is she keeping this a secret? And if she's been doing this for years, how is it possible that she has this high powered position and no one at her work knows about her condition? It makes no sense.

From what I understand, people with this condition, once they learn they have it, either lead normal lives by taking their medication regularly, or they don't do either and become homeless. They're not doing anyone any good by having this type of show. I wouldn't mind if they were misleading if only the show was entertaining, but it's only nominally so. As I watched the show, all I could think of was, "I hope they're using condoms" because she kept having sex with strangers and then didn't tell her poor boyfriend for a long time. If she's so out of control, it might be a safe bet that she's not thinking about protection.  Then to make things worse, at the end of the show, her boyfriend admitted that he kind of liked the "wild" version of her. So that was just kind of sick and gross.

The stories about her patients are interesting, but having her be "crazy" as well just doesn't work. The reason "House" worked is that the show was very funny. Greg was entertaining. The medical cases were interesting, too, but the main fun was watching him say funny-but-nasty things to people who he self-destructed. It doesn't work here because it's just not believable and no one wants to watch a crazy doctor. You wouldn't want to HAVE a crazy doctor, so why would you want to watch one on TV, especially if they're not funny and not too entertaining?

Watch at your own risk.

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