ABC's Black Box Series Premiere: My Thoughts | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

April 25, 2014

ABC's Black Box Series Premiere: My Thoughts



So, we all know I'm all about my TV Shows. Each year I do my Fall TV Preview, and many of you have participated in live discussions during Grey's Anatomy and Parenthood on the CSHM Facebook Page.

I just get really into my shows. What can I say?

I'm noticing this trend that networks are releasing season and series' premieres at random intervals throughout the year. Fall isn't the only "Big TV Premiere" season. Now, we are seeing shows debut in the dead of Winter or for short mini seasons twice a year. I'm loving that there are now shows that air over the Summer (hellllllo Under the Dome! Can't wait until June 30!). It's a smart way to keep people interested all year round instead of spikes in traffic and ratings between September and May. 

I dig it.

So I was intrigued by this Spring premiere of a new show called Black Box on ABC. Now that Parenthood is over for the season (and NBC better BRING IT BACK NEXT YEAR), my Thursday 10pm time slot was suddenly open. Since I watch Grey's Anatomy at 9pm on ABC, it made sense to stay on to check out this new series.

Steph's Black Box synopsis in a nutshell: 

Dr. Catherine Black is a brilliant neurologist, connecting with patients on unique levels of understanding. We soon learn the brilliance is accompanied by the fact that Dr. Black secretly suffers from severe Bipolar Disorder. While it has yet to affect her work (if anything, when off her medication, her skills seem enhanced), Catherine's disorder puts her in harmful situations when she does not keep it under control. Often tempted to go off her medications (she likes the "high" and how well she works while giving into her bipolar), Catherine's secret is becoming harder to keep, from her work and her fianc√© especially.

Like I said. 

Nutshell synopsis.

I dig medical dramas, so it was a natural choice to check out. 

After watching the first episode, though, I'm kind of "eh" about it. 

I will still give it the Steph 4 Episode Chance, as some shows need time to settle into itself. But I'm not really impressed. I feel that the actual writing was subpar, from the dialogue to the way plot lines moved through the episodes. Medical dramas have the distinct challenge of having both ongoing plot lines (character development, overarching story lines, etc) as well as plot lines that must find a resolution within each episode (i.e.: the medical dilemma or mystery of the day). 

I felt like there was too much of a struggle to give Catherine's back ground while trying to fit in a "too-quickly resolved" medical drama. It made Catherine's ability to read patients unrealistic. It feels kind of like a House knock-off: doctor struggling with ailment but brilliant in the field. 

But House did it better.

The acting also felt forced or cheesy at times. I didn't like how Catherine always seemed high or horny (although I understand both aspects in the frame of her disorder), and perhaps they had her cycle too much in the span of one week?


I absolutely love that there is a show bringing to light the life and struggles of mental illness. I applaud when shows dig into the gritty aspects of life we otherwise try to gloss over. I believe Catherine's wild cycling between manic and depression, her need for medical stabilization and the deep relationship with her therapist is, so far, a decent rendition.

Lastly, the jazz music. I love jazz. But I feel that they way they incorporate it into the show, almost as a highlight of Catherine's manic episodes, doesn't fit right. I'm not sure what kind of music should be played during those times. But jazz isn't working for me.

I know that pilot episodes often have that awkward teenager feeling to them. Writers try to tell too much at once, try to give too much of the character up front, instead of introducing facts and building stories over time. I will give Black Box a few more episodes to see if it "settles into itself." But, all in all, I have less hope that this show will be a winner. 


Did you watch Black Box last night? What are your thoughts on the new series?



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