A Black Box Community
ABC (ended 2014)

Back in the old days, the late midseason used to be the TV networks' garbage dump. Most of the shows that didn't make the fall roster were relegated to post-December debuts as a way of mopping up any leftover scheduling messes, and thus not really expected to do anything more than fill a time slot while networks regrouped and prepped for the next season. That's changed a bit in recent years, as early midseason debuts have given us some fantastic shows (like Awake and Hannibal, to name two), and the midseason dump-off has been pushed back to April and May. That brings us to Black Box, a late-April fill-in for ABC. You don't have to watch it, but I did, and I'm going to tell you why you probably shouldn't bother in the latest edition of So THIS Is Why ABC Held this Show Until Now


Black Box, so this is a show about finding missing planes? How topical!

ABC wishes! The show title is actually a reference to the mysterious oatmeal in your noggin known as the brain, because even when scientists know what goes in and out of it, they don't always understand what happens inside. Black Box follows Dr. Catherine Black, who is a—you guessed it—BRILLIANT neuroscientist with a—you guessed it—debilitating flaw: She's bipolar. Like, one-way ticket to Crazytown bipolar. When she's on her meds, she's saving and improving the lives of those suffering from brain disorders. When she's off her meds, she's acting like she's on goofballs by dancing, hallucinating, having rough sex, and generally being a nuisance. Catherine has a good-guy boyfriend, and she works with a hotshot neurosurgeon who will provide all the romantic misadventures the show might need. She also has brother and a psychotherapist who know her medical secret. 


Whose brain is responsible for the show, and who stars in it?

Black Box comes from the mind Amy Holden Jones, director of Slumber Party Massacre and writer of Mystic Pizza and The Getaway. It's her first major work since she penned 1997's The Relic. Redheaded Brit Kelly Reilly (FlightSherlock Holmes) gobbles up her role as Catherine opposite Ditch Davey (Spartacus: War of the Damned) and David Ajala (Law & Order: UK), who play the two male leads. Vanessa Redgrave sits behind a desk as Catherine's therapist, and for all you The Wire nerds out there, J.D. Williams (Bodie!) works at Catherine's hospital. 



When does Black Box get unboxed?

Black Box premieres Thursday, April 24 at 10pm on ABC. It fills the spot formerly occupied by Scandal, which just ended its third season.   


Who will want to open up Black Box?

This is an ABC show through and through, meaning it's geared toward female audiences and features a female lead and some racy sexy hugs, yet is also prone to flights of fancy. If you liked House but wished it had more mental hallucinations and carefree, back-against-the-wall sex, then Black Box is your jam. 


What works well about Black Box?

The show raises very interesting questions about suppressing mental illnesses with medication, whether or not that's always the best option, and what a "normal" brain is. There's also a debate over the advantages and disadvantages of genius, and a discussion of how intellectual superiority can be tied to mental illness. Reilly is a hottie, if that matters to you. And I'll give ABC a little credit for going off the deep end with this one.  



What's brain dead about Black Box?

Unfortunately, the show asks its very important questions in pretty stupid ways. When Catherine isn't taking her meds, she's prone to moments of pure idiocy, nullifying her argument in favor of ditching the pills. In the pilot's most laughable moments—and there are plenty—she'll shuck and jive and dance like she's a cat in heat on ecstasy. Then she'll pick up a random guy and wildly hump him or wander the streets and berate people for not being a world-renowned doctor. Not exactly making your case, sister! The self-contained medical stories seem awfully light, and neither of the two cases in the pilot is solved in an interesting way, undermining Catherine's supposed brilliance. Yeah, I would've taken the tumor out, too, smartypants. 

Black Box also offers up one of television's most incredibly out-of-place characters in Dr. Bickman (Davey), a brain jockey with the attitude, sexual appetite, and adrenaline-junkie tendancies of a fighter pilot who spouts such winning dialogue as, "Not with me on deck, I've got incredible stats. If I say no problem, there will be no problem." But worst of all is the show's pervasive jazz soundtrack, which really pollutes the background noise. Jazz is the music of the mentally ill, I guess? Thanks, Homeland.


So, should I watch it?

Good lord, no. This is one of the worst pilots I've seen in a while, and it competes with Betrayal for Stinker of the Season. Having said that, Black Box's awfulness almost makes it watchable, if that's your thing. (I watched the entire season of Betrayal but refuse to watch Mad Men. Maybe I'm the mentally ill one?) 


Let's take a look at a trailer!

Okay!




Black Box premieres Thursday, April 24 at 10pm on ABC.


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 7/24/2014

Season 1 : Episode 13

53 Comments
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I love this show - love how it pokes at life situations. Love how our doctors have normal feelings and desires, and can associate to everyone. This show is a winner with winning actors - PUT THIS SHOW BACK ON!!!
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awesome writing, acting show it better be renewed !!!!
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I hope you were being sarcastic... otherwise, I have bad news for you...
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Medicated/unmedicated

I am glad to "release" myself from this tv show.
Missing the focus: the doctor and her disease?
the doctor and her circunstances?
Life is unpredictable but the ties for a next season are not available, after this end.


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I really like the show!
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OK I'm calling it. Time of Death: psycho girl staring through the restaurant window at the engagement party. Beep beep beep beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....
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I'm always behind with my dvr. I just watched the pilot - I couldn't get to the end of it and have deleted the rest of the episodes. Dire. Dire. Dire. The acting was dire. The plot was dire. The music was dire. Urgh
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Nice idea, bad acting. Unwatchable.
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OMG this show is awful, and I just watched another episode, what is wrong with me?? I think I need a neuro consult, arrgh the skeevy jazz music makes my skin crawl...
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I couldn't watch 10 mins of it.
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Well, seems I'm the only one who liked the pilot (runs and hides)
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Interesting idea, horrible execution. Female lead sounds ditzy, submissive, and seems to have some kind of speech impediment. Ugh.
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Uargh, I watch the first 30 minutes, and yes, it's as awful as Betrayal.
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i think this show brings attention to the area of mental illness.. I think that subject needs as much attention as it can get.. and I found the show interesting.. So I, as a medical professional, completely disagree with most of these comments and this review.
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NOTHING like this will EVER compete with 'Mental' and the wonderful Chris Vance as Jack Gallagher.....*sigh*
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Promptly deleting from my DVR don't know what I was thinking!
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Love Kelly Reilly... not gonna touch this with a 10 foot pole.
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If it wasn't for SHIELD, I'd not tune into ABC at all.

Funny thing, when I count 'em up, out of the 16 shows I watch right now, one is ABC, one is NBC, one on FOX, CBS gets squat while for some reason that chills my soul, CW has 3...all the rest are cable series
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I hateeeee CBS. I'm so glad I hate pretty much everything on that network. I have a couple shows on each network like you though. Lol.
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Ugh...another Hollywood show misrepresenting this disease. I'll pass.
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Tim, how in the hell did you make it through the entire season of Betrayal?
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Truth! I have four episodes left and I've refused lol.
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Seems to be crossing elements of Awake and Do No Harm. Annnnndddd alll that results in a premise.......that is still very boring to me. I feel like they forgot to finish the premise.
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I am not looking forward to this 4 Episode Test! (Betrayal and Killer Women both lasted for only one episode, I'm expecting the same here.)
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Wait a second, ABC made two shows about brilliant bipolar doctors this season?
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So, it's...a procedural female Do No Harm?
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I think if the show was more focused on hard to solve cases it might be more interesting...but instead they had to make the brilliant doctor not so brilliant...going off her meds (which she knows is bad) and acts stupidly and putting her whole career in jeopardy. Seriously
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? going off ones medication while suffering with mental illness is actually quite common, and very dangerous for all of us in community. I dont see how there is harm in creating a discussion about that?? Lets not talk about it and let peoples heads continue to be chopped off on greyhound bus's!
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Statistically speaking, people with diagnosed mental illnesses are no more likely to commit acts of violence than any one else. It's thoughts like yours, assuming someone with a mental illness is dangerous, that causes such stigma.
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no, thanks ,neuroscience is beautiful and interesting this is not.
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When you said it was "one of the worst pilots I've seen" I thought you were exaggerating.

Then I saw the trailer.

I believe you.
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Sounds an awful lot like the crapfest NBC rolled out awhile back- Do No Harm. No thanks!!
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McManus from Oz at 1:46 is the only thing I liked about this trailer.
Damn I miss Oz..
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Wait, I'm confused. You've never watched Mad Men or you just don't like it?
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Mad men is definitely not Tim's type of show. Some of us don't need gore or action to be entertained.
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I had trouble making it thru the trailer....definite pass for me.
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Three words : I will pass.
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Good grief, people! How low can you go?? Are these actors going hungry or something?
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Not to mention it perpetuates the stereotype of redheads being "feisty" i.e. Brave
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Sounds horrible, and I rarely agree with Tim when it comes to something new to try (or in this case, not try).
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Tim, interesting that you don't watch Mad Men. I definitely don't judge for watching shows that are crappy while not watching shows that are critically acclaimed. I caught up on Mad Men recently because of all the acclaim and while I acknowledge that it is very finely written and shot, I find it quite slow most of the time. Boardwalk Empire is worse (more boring) in my opinion though. I'm on season 2 and struggling.
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Boardwalk Empire gets better. Season four was the best !
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