The medical conditions explored in “Black Box” are not run-of-the-mill (one woman can no longer recognize her wife; another patient only sees the right side of objects) but the way they are presented is fairly routine. It doesn’t help that the pilot is almost entirely focused on Black and doesn’t do much to build out her team of co-workers besides Dr. Ian Bickman (Ditch Davey), the new chief of neurosurgery who may also become part of a love triangle with Black and her boyfriend, Will (David Ajala), a chef she’s been dating for a year. She fails to tell Will she’s bi-polar until she cheats on him while on an out-of-town business trip.
“I have a tendency to go off the meds and do very bad things,” she eventually confesses.
Flashbacks suggest Black had a rough upbringing that hasn’t been made easier by some of her decisions, including allowing her brother and sister-in-law to raise Black’s daughter as their own. Because, you know, bi-polar isn’t enough of a secret to keep, so let’s throw in a now-teen daughter who doesn’t know her aunt is really her mom!
“It’s all about you, all the time,” says Black’s sister-in-law, perhaps voicing some audience members’ point of view. “God, it’s exhausting!”
This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to storytelling does not help “Black Box” to be taken seriously. The pilot, written by series creator Amy Holden Jones (“Indecent Proposal”), comes across as a medical melodrama with a hint of the “Homeland” bi-polar story and a desperate plea for attention through Black’s hypersexual episodes.
As Black, Ms. Reilly makes for a pretty pouty “world-famous neurologist,” which doesn’t help the show in the believability department. But it does work well when the focus is on Black’s off-her-meds sexual exploits, including a rough sex scene that leaves Will bloody.
“What you did to me that night? I liked it and I want to do it again,” Will tells Black in a scene that would seem more at home in a Harlequin romance novel than in a self-serious medical drama.