WBEZ | The Mob Doctor http://www.wbez.org/tags/mob-doctor Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago television blues http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/chicago-television-blues-104732 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Boss.jpg" title="Kelsey Grammer in the recently cancelled 'Boss' (AP/Chuck Hodes)" /></p><p>Chicago may be called The Second City, but in terms of television success, a number farther down the list would be more accurate.</p><p>As 2012 drew to a close, two Chicago-based TV shows were cancelled by their respective networks. <em>The Mob Doctor</em>, FOX&rsquo;s low-rated (and hilariously awful) drama about a surgeon working for the mafia, was <a href="http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2012/11/the-mob-doctor-canceled-at-fox-but-will-air-all-13-episodes-touch-premiere-moves-again.html">whacked</a> after just 13 episodes. <em>Boss</em>, another low-rated (but surprisingly riveting) drama starring Kelsey Grammer as a corrupt Daley-esque Chicago mayor,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/kelsey-grammer-s-boss-cancelled-by-starz-after-two-seasons">got the axe</a> after struggling to connect with viewers on Starz for two seasons.</p><p>Grammer claims that audiences shunned <em>Boss</em>&nbsp;in response to his own&nbsp;<a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/kelsey-grammer-believes-his-politics-may-have-let-to-boss-cancellation">right-leaning political beliefs</a>&nbsp;(a Fox News-style conspiracy theory that I don&#39;t buy for a second)&nbsp;and one could argue that abysmal writing was solely to blame for <em>The Mob Doctor</em>&rsquo;s demise. Still, the truth is that most TV shows filmed in Chicago don&rsquo;t last long, regardless of script quality or star power.</p><p><em>The Chicago Code</em>, an intense crime drama on FOX starring Jennifer Beals, was <a href="http://huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/11/chicago-code-canceled-fox_n_860449.html">cancelled</a> after just one season in May 2011. That same year, NBC&rsquo;s <em>The Playboy Club,&nbsp;</em>which, granted, was much less promising than <em>The Chicago Code,&nbsp;</em>was also <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-04/entertainment/chi-playboy-club-cancelled-20111004_1_episode-indie-film-cinespace">shut down</a> after only three episodes on the air.</p><p>Currently, MTV&rsquo;s <em>Underemployed</em> and NBC&rsquo;s <em>Chicago Fire </em>are holding on to their local film crews, despite <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-16/entertainment/chi-underemployed-mtv-television-review-20121016_1_mtv-plans-craig-wright-characters">mixed reviews</a> from critics and <a href="http://tv.yahoo.com/news/ratings-arrow-chicago-fire-tie-lows-whitney-matches-172921950.html">worryingly low ratings</a>. But if these shows don&rsquo;t step up their game and attract more viewers soon, they too will descend into the same cancelled TV purgatory.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/bi3h9z1YUVc" width="601"></iframe></p><p>On paper, Chicago seems like the perfect place to film a hit TV show: highly cinematic atmosphere, hardworking crews and a plethora of talented local actors to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. So why are shows like CBS&rsquo;s <em>The Good Wife</em> set in Chicago, but filmed elsewhere?</p><p>Unfortunately, logistical factors make filming in the Windy City more of a hassle than an advantage. Most film crews would rather shoot in locations like Los Angeles, New Orleans or Vancouver, where the taxes are lower and the weather much more reliable.</p><p>Even colder and more expensive cities like New York are preferable, with a multitude of soundtages available despite high production costs. Chicago has one big film studio, the beautiful <a href="http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com">Cinespace</a>&nbsp;on the Near West Side, but more widespread studio space could also allow more productions to be filmed indoors during the freezing winter months.</p><p>Thankfully, Chicago seems to have better luck with films. <em>Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon</em>&nbsp;was a literal disaster movie shot downtown during the summer of 2010 that created thousands of jobs for local film crews. And who could forget director Christopher Nolan taking over Chicago in the summer of 2007 with <em>The Dark Knight,</em>&nbsp;catapulting Batman off rooftops, sending the Joker careening through the streets and modeling Gotham&rsquo;s skyline after ours?</p><p>While television shows have floundered in comparison to the great films that have been made here, Chicagoans shouldn&rsquo;t lose hope. The ShowTime drama&nbsp;<em>Shameless</em>, which has been&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagobusiness.com/article/20120817/NEWS02/120819832/boss-brings-work-to-chicago-film-industry-during-tough-year">filming exterior locations</a>&nbsp;in Chicago since 2010, still reigns on cable as a critical darling. And who knows? Maybe a <em>Dark Knight</em> television series is just around the corner&hellip;</p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a></em></p></p> Mon, 07 Jan 2013 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/chicago-television-blues-104732 'The Mob Doctor' mimics Chicago's past, while 'Revolution' creates a new future http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/mob-doctor-mimics-chicagos-past-while-revolution-creates-new-future-102482 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/the%20mob%20doctor%20title%20card.png" style="height: 296px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><p><strong><em>The Mob Doctor</em>: Yup, you guessed it by the name alone&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&quot;This isn&rsquo;t legal&quot; one hunky doctor says to another. &quot;Well then it&#39;s a good thing we&rsquo;re not lawyers,&quot; the next replies.</p><p>That&#39;s the kind of meaningless-yet-meaningful thing you&#39;ll hear a lot of tuning into FOX&#39;s&nbsp;<em>The Mob Doctor</em>, the first of several pilots slotted for the fall television season that were filmed here in Chicago. <em>Mob Doctor</em> premiered Monday night, and if episode one tells us anything about the coming season, the show plans to bring Chicagoans exactly what doesn&#39;t apply to their lives in any reasonable manner.</p><p>Dr. Grace Devlin is played by Jordana Spiro, who I&#39;d be remiss if I didn&#39;t point out seems to love the city, despite her New York upbringing; she previously starred in TBS&#39; sitcom <em>My Boys</em>, which was also set here. Right at the beginning, we get it; Devlin takes risks. There she is as a young girl, standing with a dead body on the ground in a field located in what we&#39;re told is Bridgeport, with the Willis Tower looming in the bacgkround.</p><p>What we&#39;re led to understand is that Devlin grew into a doctor at Roosevelt Medical Center (which looks something like Rush University Medical) but hasn&#39;t left her mob connected youth behind, which has led to some complicated saving of lives for low-lifes, and being pressured into accidentally-on-purpose losing the lives of others.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hospital.png" style="height: 292px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><p>The stuff with the mob is interesting, if relatively unbelievable. For instance, this card, which was delivered at Devlin&#39;s place of business:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kill%20him%201.png" style="height: 323px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kill%20him%202.png" style="height: 459px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Subtle, no?</div></div><p>And then the heavy-handed prove-we&#39;re-in-Chicago bits: a dog named Wrigley (which makes no sense for the name of an animal presumably owned by South Siders), a bad guy named Moretti (always the name for bad guys), and a former, now risen-again mob boss Constantine Alexander, who we learn was sent to prison in 1997:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TV%20constantine.png" style="height: 323px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20record.png" style="width: 620px; height: 315px; " title="" /></div></div><p>And lines like,&quot;Grace, I realize that you&rsquo;re a plucky South Side girl who became a big city doctor. but you are no better than anyone else here&quot; delivered from an angry coworker.</p><p>Is <em>Mob Doctor</em> about crime and corruption in Chicago? Is it about the corruption of the medical community (a plot point about how a nurse is a mole in the hospital for the mob had me rolling my eyes)? Is it a new<em> Grey&#39;s Anatomy </em>(it&#39;s <a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2010/08/08/zach-gilford-off-the-map/">got Shonda Rimes-approved man meat for it</a>&nbsp;and immaculate conceptions)? Is it the new <em>ER</em>/<em>Chicago Hope</em>? <em>The Good Wife</em>, with court cases mixed in (<a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0139549/">Detective Anthony Burton</a> makes an appearance, this time on the wrong side of the law)?</p><p>Or is it about a Chicago that pop culture likes to think Chicago is but doesn&#39;t exist anymore, really -- a mob that runs the town in plain sight?</p><p>There&#39;s the little stuff that doesn&#39;t make sense: driving to a mansion in the suburbs takes no time, car chases quickly move from Lakeview to under the Green line El in the West Loop, &quot;getting out of Bridgeport&quot; is a thing. But the big stuff is this idea that the city&#39;s biggest problem is this unavoidable mob culture that you just can&#39;t escape, instead of our reality of&nbsp;a segregated city with huge economic disparities and a rampant gang culture.</p><p>At least the local TV news looks about right.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tv%20crew.png" style="height: 322px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>A <em>Revolution </em>in the way you&#39;ll see the city</strong></div><p>Despite the fact that not a stitch was shot in Chicago, the pilot episode of NBC&#39;s&nbsp;<em>Revolution</em> does a better job with the city&#39;s legacy than <em>Mob Doctor</em>. I&#39;m no J.J. Abrams uber-fan (<em>LOST</em> was just tiring) but flashing forward to a future where electricity doesn&#39;t exist anymore and we&#39;re in some sort of <em>I Am Legend</em> post-apocalypse, but with some science fiction and Wild West influenced? A place where these postcards are considered gems?</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/postcard%201.png" style="height: 397px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/postcard%202.png" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div></div></div><p>Count me in.&nbsp;This is a Chicago I can get behind: one that&#39;s entirely imagined, not slightly.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/airplanes.png" style="height: 211px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The remnants of O&#39;Hare.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wrigley.png" style="height: 299px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/skyscraper.png" style="height: 298px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20theater.png" style="height: 323px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div></div></div></div><p><a href="http://www.fox.com/the-mob-doctor/">&nbsp;<em>The Mob Doctor</em></a> airs Monday nights on FOX at 8 pm central; <a href="http://www.nbc.com/revolution/"><em>Revolution</em></a> is on NBC at 9 pm central.</p></p> Tue, 18 Sep 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/mob-doctor-mimics-chicagos-past-while-revolution-creates-new-future-102482