Black Box

Black Box, ABC’s new much-hyped highbrow medical drama about Catherine Black, genius savant neuroscientist by day, full of dark sexual druggy, dangerous (did we mention sexual?) secrets by night. aims to be the spiritual successor of one Gregory House. 

But House 2.0, it ain’t. 

Catherine Black is - try to contain your shock - Bipolar, and the show acts as if it discovered this rare and exotic malady, presenting it to us with all the paint-by numbers melodrama of a “Who’s Got the Blues? Clues.” It plays like a cross between a Mexican telenovela and an after-school special. 

The writing on Black Box is vile beyond contempt. Physical revulsion does not begin to describe my reaction. Previously I have watched shows so bad  that they hurt my feelings, but this is worse. I want to sterilize everyone involved in making Black Box, so they cannot possibly pass on any more genes. If a Time Machine is ever invented I want to use it - not to stop Hitler - but to go back far enough to sterilize Black Box’s creators’ and writers’ parents’ parents’ parents. 

You can’t be too careful. 

I wrote another 1100-odd words detailing my anger specifically, making the case for how trivialized and tawdry Catherine’s so-called genius, her illness and her patients are presented, the maudlin shoved-down-our-throats backstory and plot-arc compression that should have comprised a season or three, not 42 minutes, but you have suffered enough just reading this far, and I refuse to spend much more time on this atrocity. 

There is actual mental illness in this world, beyond the not-too-late-to-have-them-retroactively aborted studio execs who conceived of, greenlit and aired such a despicable monstrosity as Black Box, and done right a show about a brilliant neuroscientist hiding her bipolar disorder could be rich, fertile ground for television to explore. 

But not Black Box. 

There ARE some great shows out there, and in the next few days I hope to present more enthusiastic reviews of a few of them, giving you options and exhorting those who might be interested to check out what some talented creative people have come up with, exploring a smorgasbord of thought-provoking story, incredible acting; true small-screen cinematic experiences that are appointment viewing even in this DVR age. 

But I had to get this off my chest first. Don’t try Black Box. Not even in a “train-wreck” kind of way. Not to hate-watch it or see what could have lit my fuse this harshly. Just hug your kids at night and thank whatever gods you believe in that I got to you first, and warned you of the danger. 

April 25, 2014

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