'The Mob Doctor' review: Star Jordana Spiro makes this surprisingly compelling new drama

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the-mob-doctor-premiere-review.jpgThere are two main differences between Jordana Spiro's Grace Devlin, the titular character on FOX's new drama "The Mob Doctor," and your typical medical procedural. One, the unconventional surgeon at the center of the action is a woman. Two, said doc doesn't have poor bedside manner -- she's no "House" (quite the opposite, actually) -- she just has an issue with authority.

As we see in the premiere, airing Monday, Sept. 17 at 9 p.m. on FOX, this proves problematic not only because hospitals are very hierarchical organizations, but, uh, so is the mob. Not listening to your boss is way more dangerous when he'll kill (or seriously maim) you and your family as punishment.

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Grace has already established her family loyalty by taking the job in the first place (to pay some vague debt for her brother), and the first episode gives equal time to both the mob and the doctor storylines. They converge, of course, when her mob boss wants her to "accidentally" kill a key witness in a case against him during surgery. Whatever will she do?

Spiro is both gruff and likable, a hard line to straddle as a female, and you believe that she cares about her patients. The mob storyline seems a little more gripping than the stereotypical doctor one, though.

It's unfair to compare this show to "Grey's Anatomy" -- they're nothing alike, except for the female protagonist -- but hard not to hold it up to the shadow of its time slot predecessor, "House." The dialogue is a little clunkier than the long-running FOX hit, the moral lessons a little more heavy-handed, but somehow Spiro is the key that makes it all work, especially during the mob scenes. The question is how long that tension will last without the constant mob/doc back-and-forth getting boring.

Speaking of boring, the love interest is the iffiest number in the whole equation. Zach "Matt Saracen" Gilford, a.k.a. the mumble-mouthed "Friday Night Lights" quarterback we all know and adore, is likable enough (read: still dreamy) as Grace's doctor boyfriend, but somehow there's a lack of chemistry there that never makes us care about their relationship. Or maybe it's just the way their characters are written -- either way, it's hard to believe why those two would ever be attracted to one another.

Weak spots and unbelievably literal title aside -- this is just a pilot, after all -- "The Mob Doctor" is a promising and surprisingly likable new drama. Its seriousness will fit in well following the occasional kookiness of "Bones," leaving plenty of time to work out the kinks.

"The Mob Doctor" premieres Monday, Sept. 17 at 9 p.m. on FOX.
Photo/Video credit: FOX